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Aug 21, 2013 02:34 AM

Flatware: Tablespoon vs. Soup Spoon vs. Dinner Spoon

Okay, anybody got an etymology on flatware terms "Tablespoon" and its relationship to "Soup Spoon" and "Dinner Spoon"? Is there some kind of regionalism involved in descriptions? Growing up on the east coast, we referred to the larger spoon in a dining set as the "tablespoon"... and some sets were sold with an even larger spoon called a "soup spoon". Moving out here to California, I'm hearing the larger spoon in the set referred to as a "soup spoon"... with nothing larger provided for eating actual soup. And in my research, I've found that some sets are sold with a "dinner spoon" rather than either tablespoon or soup spoon. Which is "right" and what are the histories behind the terms / acceptance of the terms?

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  1. I wonder about that, also! I just added a European set of flatware to my collection & the teaspoons seem smaller than my others & the tablespoons ?? are huge. So I am a bit confused.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bevwinchester

      Do you know how old the European silver is?

      1. re: Candy

        It's not old silver- it's Laguiole Dubost - 25/10 - HORN colored handles, purchased recently. It does have that large TBSP. & small tsp. yes, the old silver is fascinating with all the different pieces.

    2. From right to left. Pierced Serving Spoon (TableSpoon), Tablespoon(Serving spoon), Sugar spoon, Place spoon (also used for soups and desserts, Iced Teaspoon, Teaspoon, Demitasse spoon, salt spoon. Not the gold bowl on the salt spoon. Salt is corrosive to silver so the gold wash is put on as protection. There are two more spoons that I am having trouble up loading. A creamed soup has a round bowl and is the larger of the two. The other look like the Cream Soup spoon but is smaller and is called a bullion spoon. There are other spoons for table service, jam, olives, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Candy

        Agree that table spoons are serving spoons, not for individual use. My silver pattern has 3 soup spoons--cream, gumbo, and oval. I believe what I have are the gumbo ...

      2. Traditionally, at least back to the Victorian era when the newly rich liked to show off how much silver they could afford, there were bouillon spoons and cream/thick soup spoons. 'Table' spoons are confusing: The standard five-piece place setting includes a salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, tea spoon, and table spoon. However, I would not count on the teaspoon or table spoon to contain 1 tsp., or 1 Tbs. There are also 'Table Spoons' for serving at the table, as pictured in another post. Personally, I dislike metal spoons for hot soup because of the thermal properties and the danger of burning my tongue. So I use only Asian 'porcelain' soup spoon (often plastic), white with a flat bottom. Your preferences may vary.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mwhitmore

          Actually, and I've been the tabletop business for a long time....years, when the Victorians were buying show-off silver, knives and forks came in two sizes, luncheon and dinner. Currently those two have been combined and we now have what is known as place size. In some patterns it is also possible to get dinner sized knives and forks, Gorham La Scala for instance or Reed and Barton's Francis I.

          In modern times the larger oval spoon in the place setting as I correctly named it is a place spoon and is used for soup or dessert. The tablespoon solid or pierced is a serving spoon. If you were to order a tablespoon in any pattern and from any company you would receive a serving spoon.

          The pieces I identified in the picture above are correctly identified.