We always called it 'sweets' when I was a little girl at home,but somehow after I married,it always turned out to be 'dessert'. Pudding is only when I make an actual hot yummy pudding!! Now that I am on my own,I do not feel a need to call it anything but what it actually happens to be... i.e. ice- cream, crumble, fruit salad, etc....
'Sweets' are lollies.
'Pudding' is just that, pudding, eg self saucing pudding, bread & butter pudding, plum pudding.
'Dessert' is what you have post-Dinner, usually. It can be from the simplest dish, eg ice cream with topping to a magnificent Croquenbouche, or anything in-between, & that confusedly, might be a self-saucing pudding, particularly in Winter!
Other countries' may call it differently, but the above is what's generally accepted in Australia.
Pudding. I think 'pudding' is a word used in England to term, whereas other countries usually use it only to describe things like boiled/steamed puddings - sticky toffee, spotted dick, etc - or rice pudding. Correct me if I'm wrong.
I call it dessert. Even if I had made chocolate pudding I would say 'dessert' and then perhaps add that it was chocolate pudding. I rarely make dessert. When I make a pudding it would be chocolate or a self saucing lemon pudding.
In the UK where I was brought up, usually we used the term "pudding". "Dessert" became the norm in later years.
However, we wouldn't use "sweets" as that was solely for what are called "lollies" in Australia.
Interestingly, in the UK "lollies" are lollipops.
Yes you are right Norma, In the U.K. it was always pudding years ago for the working and middle class. However I think that the wealthier used the word dessert. At state schools it was also described as dinner and pudding. However in the private schools it was lunch and dessert so I think it was a 'class' thing. I call it dessert but may then go on to describe it as trifle, chocolate pudding, christmas pudding, sorbet or whatever.
In restaurants, I always look at the (dessert) menu 1st. (Have you hard the saying, "Life's short, eat dessert 1st"?) At home, we only hair ice-cream on special occasions, so I ask my husband, if he'd like ice-cream, or Tiramisu, if i have some of that in the fridge, so I don't happen to ask him if he'd like: to have some dessert, pudding or sweets! The other evenings, we'll have 1/2 an apple or orange, & a few nuts.