Did dinner mean lunch?

Wish for a meal: How to use the greeting correctly

Just in time for the lunch break, the phrase “meal” echoes through the office corridors or the company canteen. A nice greeting for dinner and break. But is the striking greeting still appropriate and contemporary or an outdated and outdated phrase? How do you react correctly and appropriately when colleagues shout a friendly “meal!”? It is high time to deal with the everyday noon greeting and saying as well as possible alternatives ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What do you mean by meal?

Originally, the term “meal” meant the time at which food (food and drink) was served on the occasion of a banquet. However, the meaning has changed. Today the formulation is mainly used in the office and professional context. Hardly anyone uses them privately. In the office, it is understood to mean either the period of food consumption. Breakfast, for example, is often referred to as the “first meal of the day”. Or the greeting serves as an indirect appeal to colleagues to let them know that it is time for lunch.

By far the most common form among colleagues, however, is to greet each other with “meal” at noon. In this case, the phrase is more of a casual greeting and salutation than an appeal or wish. In the canteen, the greeting even has the same status as the wish “Enjoy your meal!” Or “Enjoy your meal!” As a greeting, the saying is not even tied to a specific time of day. It can also be used in the morning or in the evening - regardless of whether breakfast, lunch or dinner is actually taken.

Origin: Why do we want a meal?

Some phrases, greetings and terms are so well established in language that we don't worry about where they originally come from or why they are used. So it is here too: In fact, the saying goes back to a religious meaning. In the past, the long version of "Blessed Meal" was a popular greeting to wish the other person a healthy and nutritious meal with God's blessing. The greeting was not only used by clergymen, but was also common among believers. With the entry into colloquial language, the abbreviated variant “meal” was increasingly used and the religious aspect disappeared.

Remarkable: There is hardly a counterpart to the German “meal” in other languages. The English word “meal” only means the food and has no meaning whatsoever as a greeting. In Chinese, on the other hand, people tend to ask: "Chi-fan-le-ma?" (吃饭 了 吗) translates as: "Have you already eaten?"

Ironic use of the term

Depending on the situation, “meal” can have a completely different meaning that has nothing to do with a greeting or a meal. Imagine you are about to finish work - when your boss slams two files on your desk that have to be worked on today. The first thought: “Well, meal!” Or “Cheers, meal!” Both expressions are meant ironically, in the sense of “Thank you - for nothing!” Or “That's a nice present!”.

Here the phrase mutates into a (polite) expression of displeasure and is therefore more an expression of high levels of frustration and disaffection. In this form ("Well, meal" or "cheers meal") the phrase is not limited to the world of work and can be used in all areas of life.

Alternatives to the greeting meal

Many stick to the phrase “meal” because they lack suitable alternatives. Admittedly, fully-fledged synonyms for the expression do not exist. Depending on the situation, there are other options to choose and use instead of the greeting. We present the most common and most sensible alternatives below:

  • "Good Appetite!": A “meal!” To superiors is considered too casual and latently disrespectful (unless it is customary in the company). The formal formula "Bon appetit" is ideal here. However, it only fits at the table - just before dinner. The wish would be inappropriate as an invitation to take a break together.
  • "Have a good hunger!": The wish “good hunger” is also limited to the context of the meal. It is also less formal and should therefore be reserved for colleagues you know well. The appeal to new contacts and executives is inappropriate.
  • "Nice break!": If it is not clear how your colleague spends the free minutes, you can choose a general alternative to a meal. A simple “Enjoy‘ your break ”or“ Have a nice break! ”Fulfills the same purpose and is more personal than just a phrase or empty phrase.
  • "Hi good afternoon!": If “meal” is only used as a welcome around lunchtime, you can of course also say hello with a simple “hello” or wish your counterpart a “good day” if you want it to be a little more formal.

How to react correctly to a “meal”?

If it is a simple greeting, the saying is repeated as an answer: So to “meal” you also respond with “meal”. To greet this with just a “hello” could be perceived as impolite. If, on the other hand, the phrase is used synonymously with "Bon appetit", you can also use it to answer other wishes. After all, it's all about trying to eat as tasty as possible.

Meal as a greeting: Up-to-date or outdated?

Although the greeting is particularly popular in professional life, many people ask themselves whether “meal” is still up-to-date or a phrase that has not long been outdated. There is no general answer to this - it simply depends on the situation and the person you are talking to. “Meal” is typically German, but by no means “out of style”, as some foolishly claim. Alternative greetings usually depend on the time of day and the context and are therefore not a universal substitute.

Among colleagues, especially with company practice and the corresponding code of conduct, it is still no problem, for example, to request a lunch break or to call out a friendly or informal “meal!” Between 12 noon and half past one (as long as you do not bother anyone). In contrast, greetings to bosses and superiors are more of a faux pas. Good manners and more respect are demonstrated by those who choose more formal greetings such as "Guten Tag" or "Zum Wohl".

In general: Regardless of how they are meant, greetings should never be spoken casually and without eye contact. That devalues ​​them and shrinks a polite wish into a hollow phrase. So don't hesitate to wish your colleagues a “meal” - but mean it and look them in the eye.

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[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]