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Chow Down? How Gauche! How to Say “Bon Appétit” in 10 European Languages

Written by Staff Writer

This blog post was updated on September 27, 2022.

Bon appétit!

It’s a phrase you hear often, even in places where no one speaks any other French at all. There really isn’t a phrase in English that’s as pithy and mellifluous, although you might occasionally hear “Enjoy your meal.” Doesn’t really have the same ring, does it? 

Bon appétit is certainly one of the most common ways of wishing someone a pleasant eating experience. But the world is a big place, and it never hurts to know how to wish someone a good meal when you’re visiting one of France’s neighbors as well!

So once you’ve scored some cheap flights to Europe, here’s how to say, “Have a wonderful meal” in ten European languages.

German: Guten appetit

While enjoying a meal with colleagues or friends, it’s customary to say Guten appetit! before enjoying your food. A waiter or your friends would take turns saying it. In response, you can say, Danke! or Danke! Guten appetit! (Listen to the pronunciation of Guten appetit here.) 

Italian: Buon appetito

Although some might say it’s now an obsolete tradition, it’s still common in Italy to wish others at the table Buon appetito! However, for those who want to steer clear of controversy, you can also say either, Buon pranzo! for lunch or Buona cena! It’s also not uncommon to just say, Prego! (Listen to the pronunciation of Buon appetito here.) 

Spanish: Buen provecho

In Spain, when a waiter brings you your food, they would say, ¡Buen provecho! Other common way to say it is the more colloquial ¡Que aproveche! Both phrases translate to “Good profit!” (Listen to the pronunciation of Buen provecho here.) 

Hungarian: Jó étvágyat

Learning how to say, Jó étvágyat! and A számlát kérem! might take some practice. A számlát kérem! is a useful phrase to know when eating at restaurants. It means, “Check (bill), please!”, while Jó étvágyat! translate literally to “Good appetite!” It’s often said right before eating a meal. (Listen to the pronunciation of Jó étvágyat here.) 

Czech: Dobrou chut’

Sunday lunch in the Czech Republic is still a very important part of the week. Say Dobrou chut’! at the beginning of a meal. It’s second nature to a Czech! You will hear it at home, in restaurants, at work during lunch time, or wherever people are eating. (Listen to the pronunciation of Doubrou chut’ here.) 

Finnish: Hyvää ruokahalua

Dining is a more formal affair in Finland than you might imagine. If invited to dinner, guests should wait for the phrase, Hyvää ruokahalua! before start eating. In turn, guests should also wish each other, Hyvää ruokahalua! Like many other versions of the phrase, it simply means, “Good appetite!” (Listen to the pronunciation of Hyvää ruokahalua here.) 

You may also like: How to Say “Please” All Over Europe

Portuguese: Bom apetite

Depending on where you are, the common expression for beginning a meal or wishing someone to enjoy it is, Bom apetite! Take in mind that another phrase may be used as well: Bom proveito! (Listen to the pronunciation of Bom apetite here.)

Polish: Smacznego

Having dinner at 3pm might not be something everyone is used to. However, whether you’re eating a large meal at 3pm on a Sunday or gulping small cold appetizers in the evening, every meal starts with, Smacznego! This short, simple word simply means, “Enjoy!” Answer the host and everyone else with another Smacznego! and you’ll be ready to dine like a Polish. (Listen to the pronunciation of Smacznego here.)

Swedish: Smaklig måltid

Whether formal or informal, dinners usually start with the host saying Smaklig måltid!, which translates to, “(Have) a tasty meal!” Don’t forget to personally thank your host for the food after eating, since it’s customary. (Listen to the pronunciation of Smaklig måltid here.)

Greek: Καλή όρεξη! (Kalí óreksi!)

Greek culture revolves around food, so that’s something you should take in mind even before booking cheap international flights to visit the Hellenic nation. Eating outdoors, for example, is common year round. Before enjoying your food, wish everyone, Kalí óreksi! or Good appetite! In turn, respond with, Efharistó! And remember to always compliment the food and the chef, especially if you enjoy the meal. (Listen to the pronunciation of Kalí óreksi here.)

Is your language not listed here? Let us know how to say “Bon appétit” in your language in the comments below! 

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  • Tsvi Landau says:

    Hebrew בתאבון b’tay-a-VON

  • A very nice list! Translating phrases exactly is no easy task. “Enjoy” is a good way to loosely translate “smacznego”, although in more literal terms the word just means “tasty”. More specifically, it would be a contraction of “I wish you a tasty one”. Polish language can fit a lot of context into a single word, sometimes even too much – you can’t say a past tense verb without specifying the subject’s gender!

    Speaking of different languages, “itadakimasu” (頂きます) would make a nice addition! In Japanese, it translates to “I humbly receive”.