High wines and high breakfasts

What? No way. There’s “high tea”, a specific and very English concept. But you can’t misappropriate “high” for anything else.

A high tea as far as most Brits would be concerned is a proper, solid spread with cold meats and cheeses and so forth as well as desserts. Late afternoon or early evening, perhaps at the weekend with family, more than likely with wine and beer. It’s tea as a meal, which (certainly in the north of the country) means your evening dinner and can be the main meal of the day. There probably won’t be any tea to drink.

  • high tea => check you don’t mean afternoon tea or cream tea. Those refer to something smaller, in between meals, drinking a cup of tea or whatever with perhaps cake and scones and biscuits or a small, genteel sandwich
  • high breakfast => no such thing
  • high wine => no such thing
  • high anything else => no such thing
  • tea (as a proper meal) is in the early evening

American English and Wikipedia are a bit woolly on “high tea” and “tea” as a meal, sometimes tending more to an “afternoon tea”.

Prevalence: rare. But so gross that it deserves a mention. No alternative but to categorize this one as Fake English.
Frequency: rare. Once each in a couple of menus.
Native: no. No way Jose. Different people’s definitions of what “high tea” is may vary widely, but “high” only ever goes with “tea”.

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

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