Where does the term lunch come from?

Meal - a timeless greeting or long out of date?

This unconscious habit should serve as an occasion to deal with the well-known phrase in detail before lunch. The main question is appropriateness: is it still considered a good way to greet colleagues with a 'meal' while they are eating? Or is the greeting before lunch just out of date these days?

Is 'meal' a greeting?

Unlike other common greetings, the use of 'meal' is almost entirely confined to the office. Outside of work, the formulation is considered relatively unusual. In fact, it is used in everyday language as a greeting rather than a wish.

Contrary to popular belief, colleagues rarely say 'meal' to each other just before a meal. Not even during that time, but around the lunch break. In this way, employees greet each other on the way to the tea kitchen or simply at lunchtime during work. Thus, the form of address does not necessarily have to do with food intake.

In addition, 'meal' can be understood as an indirect invitation to roommates to spend the lunch break together. In this case, the status of a greeting does not apply. The form of address is still largely accepted between two employees. However, if a colleague greets a higher-ranking employee (let alone the head of department) with 'meal', his behavior is absolutely out of place.

In German, the word 'meal' has a different meaning in different contexts. Then it is meant neither as a greeting nor as an appeal. Above all, the verbalized constellations 'Well, meal' or 'cheers meal' refer to mishaps or are intended to express displeasure.

Example: 'Today we have to work overtime again because the colleague is sick. Well, meal.

In the exemplary statement, the speaker expresses his displeasure with the extra work. 'Cheers meal' is also often used in this context. Thus, both expressions in German mean something like the ironic 'Na bravo'.

Example: A folder falls down while copying. All documents are now spread out on the floor. The colleague in question responds with 'cheers meal'.

In contrast to the first variant, the speaker comments on his clumsy behavior. Whether or not there is real annoyance always depends on the individual case. Incidentally, 'Na Meal' and 'Prost Meal' are used in all situations. Its use is therefore not limited to the world of work.

Where does the greeting 'meal' come from?

The greeting 'meal' does not appear in this form in other languages. So she is typically German. Historically, the salutation goes back to the sentence structure 'Blessed Meal'. It is believed that it originated in monasteries as the beginning of common prayer. So it was used as a kind of blessing impulse before lunch.

Over the years, the lunchtime address was shortened to the second part of the sentence. Their religious reference was left out. Therefore, employees of a company only say meal to each other if they meet in the corridor around twelve o'clock. It has not yet been possible to reconstruct when the greeting found its way into the professional world of all things and became emblematic for lunch breaks in the company.

Which greeting is suitable instead of 'meal'?

This question can not be answered generally. Here it depends on external factors such as the environment. A distinction must therefore be made between formal and informal greetings at lunch.

If you meet one or more colleagues while eating during your lunch break, you can say 'Bon appetit' on the occasion. At lunchtime, the greeting 'Nice (noon) break' is also a suitable alternative. With him you leave your colleague open to a certain extent as to how he spends his break. After all, not everyone in the office goes to the canteen during this time. This is why 'bon appetite' does not always seem appropriate either.

How should one react instead? 'Good afternoon, greetings' would probably seem too old-fashioned in our modern society. At the table in the break room you can greet the rest of those present with the versatile 'Hello'. In addition, the everyday 'hello' is also suitable in a casual round.

Note: On particularly formal occasions, one usually does not encounter any slang requests before a meal. Instead of informally saying 'Enjoy your meal', hosts often greet their guests with a short speech. In such cases, as a participant in a business lunch or an official company party, you should generally refrain from eating a meal. The phrase would be far too informal for the festive setting.


Although it is still a common habit at work to greet each other with a meal at lunchtime, it seems out of date today. If it is mentioned casually in passing without eye contact, 'meal' can even come across as impolite. With regard to the operational hierarchy, an employee should definitely use alternative formulations, at least vis-à-vis his superior, in order to avoid an ugly reprimand.

In contrast to the original phrase 'Blessed Meal', the short form no longer refers to food intake as such. Instead of 'meal', greetings like 'bon appetit' are more appropriate. If you meet another employee on the way to the company canteen, both sides can say 'hello' in a very colloquial manner. In companies with a certain code of conduct, on the other hand, you greet each other with 'Hello'.

In conclusion, the results can be summarized as follows: 'Meal' is German throughout, but it is undoubtedly out of fashion. The familiar greetings can be used as a substitute regardless of the time of day. In any case, they are the more suitable choice in terms of respectful treatment. 'Well meal' with its slightly mocking appeal can still be reserved for the private sector.