I know that meaning of bon appetit is enjoy your meal, but I want to know when shall I use it?

Like if I am eating and someone else joins me, can I say that?

What if I am leaving the table?

  • 9
    You usually say it when you are in France. In England, you say "Enjoy your meal" to somebody before they start eating.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 16, 2016 at 18:06
  • 4
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because "bon appetit" is a French espression.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 16, 2016 at 18:07
  • 14
    @JavaLatte but I've heard it from many British and American friends, in many places and I don't live in France
    – Ashkan S
    Oct 16, 2016 at 18:42
  • 4
    maybe your British friends are a little more sophisticated than mine. I hear it regularly from europeans, arabs and asians who have a similar expression in their own language and believe (wrongly) that it is the appropriate thing to say to an English person. It's French, though: we don't really have an expression of our own. english.stackexchange.com/questions/185701/…
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:16
  • 7
    @JavaLatte no. the French expression is "bon appétit".
    – njzk2
    Oct 16, 2016 at 20:32

6 Answers 6


As some of the comments have mentioned, it's not frequently used in English.

I would say that, unless it's being used in a humorous way, the phrase is usually reserved for fine dining settings. In other words, if a bachelor friend of mine was about to eat a bowl of hastily prepared Ramen noodles, or if I was about to eat a hamburger with my nephew at McDonald's, I don't think I'd say "Bon appetit!" – not unless I was trying to be a little humorous.

On the other hand, I might be more inclined to say it more seriously if I had just spent several hours working on a fancy meal. Even then, though, it's not a phrase I would utter very often.

In other words, you can say it, but I'd caution against overusing it.

  • Good answer! However, in other cultures this is a matter of common courtesy. Oct 16, 2016 at 19:10
  • @LucianSava: you are right, but just because it's normal in other cultures, it doesn't mean that you have to say something like this when you are with English people. They won't expect it, and will think that it's strange, or even sarcastic, if you say it before they tuck in to their Big Mac.
    – JavaLatte
    Oct 16, 2016 at 19:25
  • 1
    It's often used in Canada also. Oct 17, 2016 at 4:52
  • 2
    I second @user1751825; I was surprised to hear that it's uncommon or even wrong to use it. Growing up in Canada, I heard (and used) it all the time.
    – Schism
    Oct 17, 2016 at 5:56
  • 2
    From Southern California here: bon appetit is (was?) completely normal and used (at least among my family and friends), but the /t/ at the end is pronounced, unlike in "real" French. Still, I'm over 30 now, so times may be a' changin'. Oct 17, 2016 at 7:28

Bon appetit is a salutation and can be said to a person who is about to start a meal, under any circumstance. No hard and fast rule regarding that. Even when a person joins you for a meal, it can be said.

bon appetit is defined by Google as:

bon appétit

bɒn apɛˈtiː,French bɔn apeti/


used as a salutation to a person about to eat.

Also refer to the following explain from Wiktionary:

Alternative forms

bon appetit


Borrowing from French bon appétit, from bon‎(“good”) + appétit ‎(“appetite”).


bon appétit!

Used to wish someone enjoyment of the meal they are about to eat.


enjoy your meal

Hope It is clear.


"Bon appetit" is not used too often in English, but when it is used it is usually like so:

  1. When you are serving others food and you wish they will enjoy their meal you can say, "bon appetit"
  2. When you are about to eat a meal with friends you can say "bon appetit"

Don't overuse it, or you will look strange. Also, like J.R. mentioned you can use this if you are trying to be funny when serving, say, an uncooked potato to someone. Other phrases you can use are: "I hope you enjoy your meal," "please enjoy," or simply "enjoy!" Those phrases are typically said by whoever is serving the meal. For example, a server at a restaurant would say these phrases, or if you are hosting a dinner at your house for guests you can say these phrases.

If you are already sitting down and eating with friends, or are leaving your table, you can say "enjoy your meal." However, the phrases I typically hear and use are more along the lines of: "this looks good," "this smells good," "I can't wait to try this." When you are eating with your friends these are the more informal phrases that basically mean "I hope that we all enjoy this meal" without actually saying that. Think of it more as a shared experience and that it is assumed that you want everyone to enjoy the meal.


We tend to use bon appetit before someone is about to start their meal. It is a fun and friendly thing to say, and should be used in informal environments. Personally I feel that it is more normal for the person who has cooked or brought you your food to say bon appetit, as a way of saying 'I hope you enjoy it'.

For example, imagine if you are at a restaurant and your food has just arrived. This would be a perfect situation for the waiter/waitress to say bon appetit.

Or another good example, a family is sat at the table ready to eat dinner. Once all of the food is on the table and the family are about to eat, someone (most likely the person or people who have cooked the meal) can say bon appetit.

In the situations you have mentioned, such as when someone joins you at the table, it would be correct to say bon appetit to this person if you offer then some of your food. I do not feel that it is correct to say bon appetit when you leave the table where other people are still eating. It would be better to say 'enjoy the rest of your meal' or something similar.

I hope this helps!


You are wrong on the meaning, it is "Have a great desire to eat". In french countries, you say it at the start of a dinner or whenever you join it or whenever someone joins you.

If you finished eating and someone arrives (late) you could say it but they wouldn't answer it to you. That is, you don't wish someone to have a great desire to eat if they won't eat anymore. In that, the true meaning can help you.

English people use it to appear classy and will use it much less often but the same rules can apply.



the feeling that you want to eat food:

All that walking has given me an appetite.

I won't have any chocolate, thanks. It will spoil (= reduce) my appetite.

I haven't got much of an appetite (= I am not hungry).

The children all have healthy/good appetites (= they eat a lot). Both viruses cause fever and loss of appetite.

Bon however is not English. It is in French giving the meaning of something good/well.

When somebody says bon apetite actually they are referring to an exaggerated version of good to create the impression:

It is so good they can't even spell in their own language to express their feelings towards this food. So they have to tell it in different languages. It feels like otherworldly.

Like if I am eating and someone else joins me, can I say that?

-Yes, you can! But it is not English and only exaggerates the meaning.

What if I am leaving the table?

-In such case I would recommed you to say "enjoy your meal".


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