In French "Bon appetit", in German "Guten Appetit" or "Mahlzeit", I also know it exists in Arabic and Japanese. As expatriate speaking English daily, I often get confused when I want to say that to my roommates and I end up saying "Enjoy your meal" or "Have a nice meal" which sounds weird to me. Is there anything else one can say?

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    In US restaurants, "Enjoy your meal" is a common exhortation from servers. "Bon appétit", while rarer, is also sometimes heard (though perhaps more so in Britain, whose population is generally better acquainted with French than is the population of the USA). In a family or other informal setting, many Britons will enjoin each other to "Tuck in!" or "Dig in!" – Erik Kowal Jul 18 '14 at 6:05
  • Related: “Enjoy!” Enjoy what? – ermanen Feb 15 '15 at 20:39
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    "Belly up to the trough and pig out!" – Hot Licks Aug 3 '15 at 20:49
  • Japanese was mentioned. The word they have, and I am not sure if I have the romaji correct is itadakimas. But the interesting thing about that, and where it differs from bon appetite, (and typically Japanese) it is said by the guest rather than the host. And it is almost an apology for starting - "do please forgive me but I am about to start - and I understand that it is your food I'm eating". – WS2 Aug 4 '15 at 6:51

Speaking as an Iowan now living in California, I would simply say, "Enjoy."

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The intransitive use of 'enjoy' is now extensively used by semi-literate restaurant staff in Britain too.

I agree with the OP that English greatly lacks a suitable term for enjoining your dining partners in the way that 'bon appetit' does in French.

But English, across the centuries, has overcome natural deficiencies, by simply borrowing a foreign expression. Are there really many people in America who wouldn't understand what 'bon appetit' meant? I alternate it with 'Guten appetit'. But doesn't Spanish have an equivalent which Americans might use?

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  • Buen provecho. – tchrist Aug 3 '15 at 23:49

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