You discovered something interesting. According to wikipedia and my dictionary:
Il pasto di metà giornata si chiama pranzo (o seconda colazione). / The midday meal is called lunch (or second breakfast) :D
Also colazione di lavoro = working lunch
But just remember "La colazione = the breakfast" and "il pranzo" = "lunch" :)
I got curious and googled "brunch". The Wikipedia article I read said that the 1896 supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary cites Punch magazine as having said the word "brunch" was coined in England in 1895. According to a New Orleans Restaurant Guide I read, Madame Begue, a German woman who married a Frenchman, served only one meal a day at her establishment, a "second breakfast" at 11:00 a.m., to the dock workers. The restaurant guide said that "Today, Madame Begue is credited with inventing "brunch". The restaurant guide also claimed she had "invented" the "second breakfast"; something that had been around in Germany, and probably other countries, for a long time. All I know for sure is that the word "brunch" is a combination of "breakfast" and "lunch".
hud214, I just read there is a "second breakfast" called Merenda. You have to be hungry around 10 or 11 a.m. after only having coffee and a cookie for breakfast! You can also have/eat Merenda in the afternoon. It is more substantial than la colazione with bread, meats, and cheeses and other things.
I asked my friend from Italy and she had to look into the matter. Apparently, up until WWII, all meals used to be referred to as colazione, and, in restaurants, the meals were distinguished as the first meal, second meal, etc. This is now very old-fashioned, and in recent times, separate words are used for each meal. However, sometimes breakfast is still referred to as "first breakfast" as a holdover from the earlier practice, although now such a phrase is redundant.
A snack is generally uno spuntino, or una merenda, if it is eaten in the afternoon. (Notice the difference in gender between these).
Fare uno spuntino or far merenda is "to have a snack". Anyone who is familiar with the books of Andrea Camilleri, or even with the Inspector Montalbano DVDs, may remember "The Snack Thief". In Italian, this is titled "Il ladro di merendine", using the plural of the diminutive form merendina.
The English word snack is actually found in Italy too, though in a slightly different sense ; uno snack-bar is a place to go and have something to eat. This could also be called una tavola calda or una tavola fredda, depending on whether it primarily serves hot or cold food.
Have a look here to find out about about this: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-italian/snack http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english-italian/snack-bar http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/italian-english/spuntino http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/italian-english/merenda http://www.garzantilinguistica.it/en/search/?q=spuntino http://www.garzantilinguistica.it/en/search/?q=merenda http://www.garzantilinguistica.it/en/search/?q=snack
I hope this helps.
As a noun, in English we rarely say, 'the breakfast' unless it is the breakfast itself that is being contrasted with something else. "The hotel patron said, 'the breakfast we had at Harrod's was outstanding.' We instead use it as a sort of mass noun, 'breakfast' and without the article. 'I want to eat breakfast' or 'Breakfast was especially good, Mom. Can we have omelettes again?'