How do you say “bon appetit” in Italian?

Don’t you always feel classy when you say “bon appétit” before starting a meal? Maybe while doing the fancy chef’s kiss? It’s one of those phrases that sound well every time. But have you ever wondered what it means, or how to say bon appetit in Italian? Well, if you have, it’s time to find out!
how to say bon appetit in italian

What does “bon appetit” mean?

You can easily guess that this phrase has something to do with food and eating.

The literal translation of “bon appétit (or bon appetit, as many people write it in English) is “good appetite”.

It is a way to say that you wish to eat much and well to the people you’re with.

In other words, it’s the French equivalent of “enjoy your meal.

Every language has its own way of saying that, but how does it sound in the language of the nation that gave the world lasagna and pizza?

italian phrase to say enjoy your meal

Here’s how to say “enjoy your meal” in Italian

The typical Italian phrase to say “enjoy your meal” is buon appetito.

It’s easy to remember because it sounds a lot like bon appetit. After all, Italian and French are both neo-Latin languages, and these similarities are not at all uncommon.

It seems that its origins derive from a medieval tradition.

It is said that, in the past, rich people used to invite their servants once a year for lunch and wished them “bon appetit” as a way of saying: “today you can eat more than usual, enjoy“.

Whether it’s true or not, today most Italians use it at every meal (even with their own family members) as a simple good wish.

So, if an Italian friend of yours invites you home to eat, you can easily integrate by wishing everyone buon appetito.

But if you find yourself in a more formal situation, be careful.

Like many of the things we usually do with pleasure, saying buon appetito is forbidden by etiquette. So, how do you say “bon appetit” in Italian if you’re not sitting with relatives or friends?

the chef's kiss gesture

Formal alternatives

On formal occasions, the easiest solution is to replace appetito with the name of the meal you’re about to eat.

  • buon pranzo = “have a nice lunch”;
  • buona cena = “have a nice dinner”;

If you’re having someone over, you can also say:

  • si serva pure if there’s only one person. If you two are well acquainted and vi date del tuyou can also say: “serviti pure“. 
  • servitevi pure if you’re hosting more people;

Both these phrases mean “please suit yourself”. They are a very formal way to tell your guests to enjoy their meal and act as if they were at home.

how do you reply to bon appetit in italian

How do you reply to “buon appetito”?

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The most standard way to reply to buon appetito in Italian is to say thank you with a simple grazie.

Alternatively, you can also say altrettanto, which means: “you too”. And if you’re feeling particularly chatty, you can use both.

Buon appetito! – Grazie, altrettanto!

Enjoy your meal! – Thanks, you too!

enjoy your meal (2)

Enjoy your meal

Now you know how to say bon appetit in Italian, and you also know what it means in English.

If you are curious about Italian and want to learn new common expressions to sound more like a native speaker, remember to check this blog every week.

I often write about many peculiar words and phrases that you can learn to improve your fluency.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go eat a nice panino. Buon appetito a me!

Still translating in your head? Wanna speak Italian for real? Check out Stefano's courses to think directly in Italian and become fluent fast!

FAQs on How do you say “bon appetit” in Italian?

How do you respond to Buon appetito?

Naturally, you can reply with "Buon appetito," but you can also use the equivalent of the same to you, "Grazie, altrettanto."

What do Italians say when food is good?

When referring to food, the word "ottimo" (ottima, ottimi, or ottime) suggests that the food is "very good" or "excellent."

What do Italians say before a meal?

"Buon appetito" is an Italian phrase used before and during meals. It means "Enjoy your meal".


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