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?

  • 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
  • 11
    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
    I suppose BAM! could be used, if you can pull that off.
    – mfg
    Apr 11 '11 at 15:38
  • 2
    The Hebrew equivalent is B'tai Avon.
    – Martha F.
    Apr 12 '11 at 3:11
  • 2
    The Mexican Spanish version is apparently "buen provecho". Jun 4 '11 at 6:05

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.

  • 6
    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
  • 1
    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. 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

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.

  • 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. 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
    @Mitch: You're right. The Japanese have an expression, "itadakimasu," that is usually uttered before every meal by all present (transl. "grateful to recieve this"). Some English speakers say some kind of prayer, but apart of "dig in" we really have no expression that accords with bon appetit.
    – The Raven
    Apr 11 '11 at 18:33

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 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".
  • or in the words of Jim Royle "get it et, it all goes to mek the turd" Feb 6 '13 at 9:49
  • 1
    Your 3rd paragraph about 'learners' makes a lot of sense. As a native Russian who often meets people learning English here, I've noticed they often seek for this equivalent. Because culturally such phrase is expected due to the existence of a phrase similar to Bon Appetit in Russian (I guess we have a calque from French). The usual phrase which satisfies everyone is Enjoy your meal as it must be suggested in text books and other study materials (I haven't checked). So 90% of learners in Russia I guess think this is the real equivalent.
    – alexsms
    Aug 27 '18 at 11:03
  • 1
    +1 for a very good answer. I've done my research but couldn't reach the great conclusion, simple and clear.
    – learner
    Jun 1 '19 at 14:15
  • How do native speakers, guests and hosts, act when food is ready to be eaten on a table? I don't they look at each other to see who just starts to eat first?
    – learner
    Jun 1 '19 at 14:25

No, there isn't.

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

  • 11
    I think the French consider that "bon appetit" before English cooking to be sarcasm!
    – mgb
    Apr 11 '11 at 15:31
  • @mgb Ouch!That hurts.
    – learner
    Jun 1 '19 at 14:16

How about

Eat well!


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

  • @Kevin That’s why the French often (informally) resort to “bon ap’”. 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
  • 2
    @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-our-specials- is a lot longer.
    – mgb
    Apr 11 '11 at 16:33
  • 1
    Also, 'smakelijk' is typically preceded by 'eet', so you're back up to 4 syllables again.
    – oosterwal
    Apr 11 '11 at 18:05

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!"


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.


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.

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