Posts Tagged ‘thank you’

On “You’re Welcome”

I find social norms interesting especially when it isn’t entirely clear why they exist. One I was pondering in a state of half-sleep last night was the norm of saying, “You’re welcome” after “Thank you.”

Why do we say it? The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites the first documented usage in W.W. Jacob’s 1907 Short Cruises. And, OED defines it as “a polite formula used in response to an expression of thanks.” While “you’re welcome” is sometimes used as a “polite formula,” those who use “you’re welcome” often have a more precise intended meaning. When someone responds, “you’re welcome,” they are acknowledging that thanks is owed. Let’s call this type of response to “thank you” a category one reply.

Continue reading