Where Did the Term “Mess Hall” Come From and Why Is a Military Dining Hall Called a Mess?

A mess hall is what military types call their dining halls.

The term’s origins go back to the Middle Ages when British sailors began calling their meagre, often grub-infested meals a mess, which they clearly were.

Mess originally meant the food for one meal.

It has since evolved to signify a specific area where sailors, soldiers, and aircrew gather to eat, drink, and socialize.

In order to maintain discipline, there are usually three levels of mess: officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and rank-and file soldiers.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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