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English is not my native language, but when I was studying in the US, I was always trying to find an alternative to

I'm full!

I felt that it was a very improper way to express that I have eaten enough, especially when I was invited for dinner. I remember having difficulties demonstrating my gratitude towards my hosts when using this expression.

Being full feels to me a bit like a car that has been filled with gasoline and gasoline is just used to continue working. That's not what I want to say...

Is there a better word I can use? I haven't found one in the dictionary. There are, of course, long forms:

I have had enough [, thank you].

that I have learned to use, but I wonder if there is a short one. Other Languages have rassasié (French), sazio (Italian) and satt (German). Should I use satiated?


Update: Thank you all for the overwhelming response! After 13 answers, I feel I got a better understanding of the phrase. I'm grateful for @Andrews answer, because he took the cultural aspect into consideration. This was the decisive part that I missed. I can also understand @MT_ Head that saying No thank you, I'm full while smiling isn't offensive at all. Thanks for that.

I conclude that there is not a single wide spread word I can use which doesn't sound stilted or strange (or even has a touch of sexual pleasure).

I now have a repertoire of polite responses available. I'm accepting the most helpful answer for me, but most of you got my up-vote. :)

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Thanks for this question. I'm german, and full always reminds me of voll which is maybe why I'm usually not too happy with using this expression either. –  takrl Jun 21 '11 at 13:48
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Replete is the correct word, I don't know why no-one mentioned it. o_o –  Kieren Johnstone Jun 21 '11 at 15:06
    
Note that although sono sazio is an absolutely correct word in Italian, it is far more common (and not considered unpolite) to say sono pieno (I'm full). –  nico Jun 21 '11 at 15:54
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On a similar yet unrelated note, I once hosted a dinner for a Spanish friend of mine who, upon me asking if he'd like more, said "No thank you, I am satisfied." That got me thinking how much better it is to think that the purpose of a meal is to become satisfied rather than full. I wonder if Americans are the only ones who think in the context of being full rather than being satisfied. Just an observation. –  Paperjam Jun 21 '11 at 19:14
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The person who offers the food is also in a position to offend. In my book, straight answers that are slightly polite are always good. I would be pissed if someone talked like a BS politician for 5 mins rather than they told me straight: "I don't eat mushrooms, sorry." or "I am lactose-intolerant", or "Killing animals is cruel" or "I am full, thanks", or "I've had plenty, thanks" or "I am pregnant and all food makes me vomit" or "eating pig meat is against my religion, but thanks for trying" or "is that kosher?". I might not be their best friend but thanks them for being straight&saving time. –  Job Jun 22 '11 at 16:07

13 Answers 13

up vote 33 down vote accepted

MT_Head's answer is spot on — saying "I'm full" isn't rude.

I don't think there is another single word that is similarly polite and well-understood.

If you want to avoid saying "I'm full", you could say things like, "I've had plenty," or "I've had too much already."

Host: "Would you like any more?"

Guest: "Oh, no thank you, I've had plenty. This was all wonderful, thank you."

Or...

Host: "Do you care for seconds?"

Guest: (leaning back) "Oh, no I can't, I've had too much already. Thank you, it was delicious!"

Or...

Host: "Please help yourself, there's plenty more."

Guest: "Oh, no, don't tempt me!" ( in a joking / laughing manner ) "No, I better not, thank you. This was all fantastic!"

All of these are ways to avoid saying "I'm full" which would sound natural. However, be prepared that "I'm full" is probably the keyword your host is looking for, so if they insist...

Host: "Are you sure? There's more dessert!"

Guest: "No, no I really can't. I'm perfectly satisfied right now, if I ate any more it would be too much."

In this way you can imply to your American host that you are not turning down the food because it isn't good, but because you really have eaten all you would like to eat — or even a few bites too much.

Really I think what this (sadly) reflects is that we Americans are prone to eating too much food when we really like it, so if you don't seem to have eaten "a little too much" your host may wonder if the meal wasn't to your liking.

So, while you don't have to say it yourself, it's probably best to understand that this is reason people in America say "I'm full." You're indicating to the host that the food was so irresistible you already had a little bit too much, and now you really must decline (or risk being sick!).

As an American this isn't part of my culture that I'm especially proud of, but it is what it is, and it's better to understand than to remain uncomfortable with it.

I hope this helps! Good question, by the way :)

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I find that this answer is the most appropriate because, though 'full' is not rude at all, it is fairly informal and is more for the kids at the family table to say than anywhere else. Also, these answers are polite without being at all stilted (they sounds like what normal people actually use). "No, I'm fine, thanks." is the shortest version I can think of. –  Mitch Jun 21 '11 at 15:44
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Just anuzzer leetle waffa theen meent? –  adolf garlic Jun 22 '11 at 12:17
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+1 for the included gestures –  Edgar Gonzalez Jun 22 '11 at 13:15
    
"+1 for the included gestures" (in a joking / laughing manner) –  corsiKa Jul 15 at 18:39

If you're looking for a single word that will express thanks at the same time, I would avoid both satiated and sated; with apologies to @F'x, "sated" is not at all common in conversation, and when it is used it usually has more to do with sex than food. (Not always, but often enough that your hosts will look at you strangely for a moment before relaxing and saying to themselves "Oh, that's all right - it's not his first language." Probably not the effect you were hoping for!)

Believe it or not, No thank you, I'm full is perfectly well accepted, especially if you look happy when you say it. It may seem a little utilitarian, but it's what we USAites generally say at home. The only time when "I'm full" would seem rude to your host/ess would be if you hadn't actually eaten much at all; the implication would be that you had eaten somewhere else first. But I suspect that that's universal, and not restricted to the US.

If you know your hosts well, you might actually make the cook even happier by saying I'm stuffed!1 , rubbing your tummy, and smiling - but only if you are very comfortable with the family. Again, it's very important to look happy when you say this - definitely avoid this phrase if you're feeling ill and looking a little green.

Years ago, my step-grandfather insisted that I have eaten sufficient was the only polite way to indicate satiety. Do not do this! If you thought "I'm full" made mealtime sound like filling up a tank, "I have eaten sufficient" makes you sound like a robot. A really, really weird robot with no friends.


1 - Yes, I'm aware that "stuffed" has other meanings, but in this context it's perfectly clear and innocent.

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I love your step-father's comment, it reminds me of a co-worker I once had, who used to proclaim regularly that he had had "an elegant sufficiency"! –  Loquacity Jun 21 '11 at 9:05
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+1 I would favorite this answer if I could. That last paragraph is hilarious. –  mskfisher Jun 21 '11 at 11:23
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+1 there is nothing impolite about simply saying "I'm full". –  Neil Bartlett Jun 21 '11 at 15:09
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and it would be "sufficiently" since the word needs to be an adverb to modify "eat" (the verb) –  warren Jun 21 '11 at 19:13
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@warren - I believe he was using an "implied noun" phrase, where "food" or "fuel" or "gorp" was the implied noun. It's grammatically defensible (albeit nonstandard) - it just sounds really weird, and it implicitly removes all qualities from the food except quantity and caloric sufficiency. No cook on earth would be flattered by this phrase, except perhaps a hobo who'd just stewed up his last boot for you and was worried you might still be hungry afterward. –  MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 19:45

In polite company I would say something flowery like

"I couldn't eat another crumb thank you — it was delicious and I ate far too much"

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Pretty close to what I was going to suggest: "I couldn't (possibly) eat another thing". –  scottishwildcat Jun 21 '11 at 14:40
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"But it's only wafer-thin!" –  MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 16:54
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+1 I think you'll find it's 'waffer' ;-) –  5arx Jun 21 '11 at 19:50

According to Miss Manners and similar etiquette experts, the correct and polite response to an offer one does not wish to accept is "no thank you." One need not offer excuses or reasons or apology and, in fact, doing so runs the risk of reducing the politeness of the conversation. If the offerer persists, the polite response is to smile and repeat "no, thank you."

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This is more of an etiquette question. While I'm full may be fine in most situations, conventional etiquette demands something like this:

No, thank you. It was delicious!

The reason is that full, satiated, etc. refer to bodily states, which are not appropriate in polite conversation.

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If you know there is an after-meal course coming (i.e., dessert), it is common to say "I am saving [trying to save] room for dessert," in which case it would be understood that you aren't eating any more of this meal but without the implication that you might have something against the host's food.

This is very casual, though.

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Be careful not to mention dessert before your host does---it could be rude to imply that your host is obliged to provide dessert. If dessert was already mentioned previously, then this would be a great reply, I think even in a formal setting. –  krubo Jun 22 '11 at 2:27

Oh, I couldn't possibly [have any more]. It was delicious.

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My grandfather taught his children - one of whom is my mother - to say the following. It's not a single word, but perhaps inspiration can be found within.

No thank you, I've had a gentile sufficiency. Any more would be a superfluity to my gastronomical satiety, which admonishes me that I've reached the ultimate state of deglutition.

However, I don't know if it's polite, per se, to confuse your host.

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Snort! I'd give an extra +1 if I could just for "I don't know if it's polite to confuse your host". :) –  Marthaª Dec 29 '11 at 18:01

A polite way of saying that you're full, at the same time being easily understood, would be:

Thanks! I'm satisfied.


Meaning to say that you've had enough to eat.

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Why the huge size? –  Alenanno Jun 21 '11 at 12:15
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Trying out new HTML formatting thingies...:-) –  Thursagen Jun 21 '11 at 12:19
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"I'm satisfied" certainly wouldn't be a common expression for this situation in British English, at least. –  scottishwildcat Jun 21 '11 at 14:40
    
This works in American English, but without a bit of protest could possibly be considered a polite way of saying "I had all that I care to because the food is only average." You're not going to offend anyone this way, but you may leave them wondering whether they're cooking was very good if you don't specifically say so. –  Andrew Jun 21 '11 at 14:53
    
"Satisfied" is exactly what I was taught as a child and saying I was "full" was considered rude. However I would have said "No thank you" rather than just "Thanks" –  Tom Howard Jun 26 '11 at 22:57

It's also acceptable and common to simply say, "No thanks, I'm good."

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I think this is an Americanism. In other English-speaking countries, "good" is just the opposite of "bad". So you'd be claiming to be a righteous, moral person -- which at the very least has nothing to do with what you actually meant to say, and at worst sounds like boasting. –  Neil Bartlett Jun 21 '11 at 15:06
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@Neil: A valid point. An alternative might be "No thanks, I'm fine." but it may have similar unintended meanings. Ultimately it depends on the culture of the English audience. –  JYelton Jun 21 '11 at 15:18
    
I would expect this to be well-understood anywhere in North America. –  Andrew Jun 21 '11 at 17:15
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I would expect it to be well-understood, but "I'm good" is probably not considered formal by many people. –  horatio Jun 21 '11 at 18:52
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At home, I say "I'm good" to mean "No, thank you, I'm full." I might use the same expression in a diner or other informal restaurant (the sort of place where your waitperson calls you 'hon'); I would not use it when eating at someone else's house, or in any formal setting. –  MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 20:28

How did you guys miss 'Replete'?

  1. Filled or well-supplied with something.
  2. Very full of or sated by food.
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Cambridge/Oxford dictionaries are closer to how I understand it and use it very frequently: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/replete?q=replete // oxforddictionaries.com/definition/replete –  Kieren Johnstone Jun 21 '11 at 15:18
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We missed replete because people don't say it all that often. You could try and bring it back into fashion though... –  Matt Эллен Jun 21 '11 at 17:22
    
Me, my family and friends all use it all the time –  Kieren Johnstone Jun 21 '11 at 19:42

Many of the best terms suggested here (Replete, Sated, etc) are considered rather formal. It's perfectly acceptable in most circles to say, "Thanks, I'm full."

As you're uncomfortable with this term, some simple alternatives such as "I'm fine, thanks." and "No thank you, I couldn't eat another bite." are still considered perfectly polite unless said with a frown.

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sated
satisfied completely; fulfilled: afterward, sated and happy, they both slept.

(New Oxford American Dictionary)

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"afterward, sated and happy, they both slept" - Perhaps I just have a dirty mind, but that sounds more like a line from Anaïs Nin than Julia Child. –  MT_Head Jun 21 '11 at 8:38
    
their cups runneth over –  mplungjan Jun 21 '11 at 11:47
    
However if you used this in conversation I doubt many people would understand it as it is not at all common language –  Matt Wilko Jun 21 '11 at 12:16
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Even for those that understood it, it would be really strange. –  Kosmonaut Jun 21 '11 at 12:24

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