Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The French have "Bon appetit".

In Belgium and the Netherlands we have "Smakelijk".

Is there a short way to wish someone a good meal in English?

share|improve this question
2  
"Enjoy your meal" is not short enough? Anyway, what ever it is, it is not an exact translation for 'Bon Appetit'. Only restaurant workers ever say any thing like 'Enjoy your meal' (in AmE/culture). –  Mitch Apr 11 '11 at 14:17
8  
Or there's the Jewish mother version: "Look at you, you're nothing but skin and bones! What, we cooked. You'll eat." –  Robusto Apr 11 '11 at 14:50
1  
@Alenanno Understood. I only went to school there with South and Central Americans and had little to no interaction with Spaniards. –  snumpy Apr 11 '11 at 19:01
1  
The Hebrew equivalent is B'tai Avon. –  Martha F. Apr 12 '11 at 3:11
1  
The Mexican Spanish version is apparently "buen provecho". –  Brennan Vincent Jun 4 '11 at 6:05

9 Answers 9

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, no. However, the French phrase bon appetit is very widely known, and you can use that as an alternative.

A very informal option would be to say Dig in!, though this has the connotation of eating sloppily or in large amounts, and doesn't necessarily carry the idea of enjoying an elegant, modestly portioned meal.

share|improve this answer
4  
Tuck in is a slightly more elegant-sounding alternative to dig in, though still very informal :) –  psmears Apr 11 '11 at 13:33
1  
@psmears, I've never heard "tuck in" used in that context in the US. Is that a UK term? –  BradC Apr 11 '11 at 13:59
    
Yes, but still informal. The cook or host says it. –  tobylane Apr 11 '11 at 14:16
    
@psmears +1 for “tuck in”. That’s what I always use. –  Konrad Rudolph Apr 11 '11 at 14:44
    
@BradC: It is certainly used in the UK. I can't speak as to whether it's UK-only though... –  psmears Apr 11 '11 at 18:38

I do food delivery in a formal work uniform and I was in need to express a word to customers at the moment of handing them their food and leaving (to show some courtesy); so I improvised with the expression "enjoy your food" and noticed people didn't react in accordance. Then I started to use "enjoy it " and still I felt that I was not getting a good response from people, only a silent pause but not a welcome response as from a clear simple and correct expression. I'm replacing the word food with "meal"! like enjoy your meal! Or limit myself to just saying Thank you and good-bye! I noticed that simple and clear is accepted better.

share|improve this answer

I sadly do not have the source for this, but a UK-English etiquette advisor on some low-brow tv program explained it was because you expect the host to have prepared a good meal for you, and wishing him or her a good meal highlights the fact that you had the option open for the contrary: a tasteless and boring forced feeding exercise.

It does sound a bit like a rule made up to conform to current behaviors though.

share|improve this answer

There may be a connection between English (I include Americans) and food. In most other cultures you are expected to enjoy your food. It has been prepared for you with loving care (by mom). In the English-speaking world it is - "there you go!"

share|improve this answer

Bon appetit is best if you want to say something.

Note that in English speaking countries we don't generally express this sentiment at all.

When we do feel like saying something, among native English speakers I feel the anglicised version of the French phrase is the most common way.

I don't believe I've ever heard "enjoy your meal" used among groups consisting only of native English speakers. It is widely used by people learning English and even people teaching English to foreigners. I think it must be in lots of bilingual phrasebooks, dictionaries, and teaching materials.

Everybody who uses "bon appetit" in English perceives it as French but unless they've studied French or spent some time in a French speaking country, it is mostly mispronounced in that the we pronounce the final "t" where French speakers do not. (This is ignoring the many other more subtle differences between English and French pronunciation.)

To sum up:

  • If you really want to act like a native speaker don't say anything.
  • If you still really want to say something and still be like a native say "bon appetit" but pronounce it bon-app-a-teet.
  • If you're worried about "correct English" say nothing or stick with "enjoy your meal".
share|improve this answer
    
+1 for "is best if you want to say something." :) –  Kris Oct 19 '12 at 7:29
    
or in the words of Jim Royle "get it et, it all goes to mek the turd" –  adolf garlic Feb 6 '13 at 9:49

How about

Eat well!

share|improve this answer

Lol, how much shorter do you want? "Smakelijk" is 3 syllables (I think). "Bon appetit" is 4 syllables as is "Enjoy your meal".

share|improve this answer
    
@Kevin That’s why the French often (informally) resort to “bon ap’”. –  Konrad Rudolph Apr 11 '11 at 14:46
1  
@Konrad - and why we Americans resort to "Enjoy" which, evidently, is irksome to some people. –  Kevin Apr 11 '11 at 14:48
1  
@Kevin, I don't know why; I find "Enjoy" perfectly acceptable. It's all in the delivery. –  mfe Apr 11 '11 at 14:50
3  
But the typical (deep breath) - hello-my-name-is-jane-and-i'll-be-your-server-for-today-let-me-tell-you-about-ou‌​r-specials- is a lot longer. –  mgb Apr 11 '11 at 16:33
    
Also, 'smakelijk' is typically preceded by 'eet', so you're back up to 4 syllables again. –  oosterwal Apr 11 '11 at 18:05

No, there isn't.

This reflects the fact that there is not a custom of saying "bon appetit" or equivalent in the Anglophone world.

share|improve this answer
9  
I think the French consider that "bon appetit" before English cooking to be sarcasm! –  mgb Apr 11 '11 at 15:31

It is common in US restaurants for serving staff to say, "Enjoy!" upon placement of the meal.

It is also widely disliked and thought to be overly breezy.

share|improve this answer
1  
This was the alternative that I was going to mention, and I also agree with your conclusion. –  CJM Apr 11 '11 at 13:58
1  
Funny, I never realized that connotation in Enjoy!. Does the same count for Enjoy your meal? –  nico Apr 11 '11 at 14:01
3  
@TheRaven Why does it grate upon the senses, though? A hearty “enjoy!”, while informal, sounds much more honest than most stilted phrases in my opinion. –  Konrad Rudolph Apr 11 '11 at 14:45
1  
@Konrad: The phrase "Enjoy!" is used primarily by service staff that are likely to be near the end of a 6 hour shift. The term is a formality similar to "Enjoy the show" at the theater except the people saying it just obviously do not care and need to say it to (hopefully) get a tip. Neither the speaker nor the listener cares at this point. You may as well say, "Here is your food." –  MrHen Apr 11 '11 at 16:39
1  
That connotation does not exist in the UK. It's not usual to say anything but "Enjoy!" is a decent alternative, as "Enjoy your meal!" is a bit too wordy imo. –  z7sg Ѫ Aug 25 '11 at 16:38

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.