When Did We Stop Saying 'You're Welcome'?

And should we mourn its passing, or just suck it up?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2010 7:17 AM CDT
When Did We Stop Saying 'You're Welcome'?
You're welcome: A dying phrase?   (Flickr)

(Newser) – Matt Zoller Seitz has a problem with "no problem." The phrase has replaced "you're welcome" about as definitively as cars replaced the horse and buggy, and it irks him "to an extent that cannot be captured in print without the use of capital letters, boldface, italics and multiple exclamation points." So here's the issue, in plain, cranky English: "The phrase implies an imposition on the part of the person saying, 'Thank you.'" Replying "no problem" is basically code for, "What I did for you was not the sacrifice you so charmingly believe it to be," he writes for Salon.

Consider the example of a man who holds a door open for a woman. Her thanks, followed by his "no problem," basically means, "Don't worry, holding that door didn't cost me anything but a few seconds of my life and a handful of glucose molecules—so carry on, lady!" Zoller Seitz asks a few friends to weigh in on the matter, and ultimately doesn't come to much of a conclusion, leaving him wondering if he's right to mourn its death or if he should "just take a nice long look in the mirror and admit that I see a grumpy, prematurely old white man who's giving himself agita over things he can't control." (Read more manners stories.)

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