‘Nice Knowing You’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on March 3, 2023

Did someone say ‘nice knowing you’ and you’re not sure what it means? Is this a kind expression or a rude one?

‘Nice knowing you’ can be used in a wide variety of ways– including sincerely, humorously, sarcastically, and angrily. The implication is that the speaker is saying goodbye to someone forever. Depending on the context and tone, this might be a genuine and heartfelt farewell, a funny joke, or a rude expression.

What Does 'Nice Knowing You' Mean?

‘Nice knowing you’ is a phrase that is usually used when two people are parting ways forever. The implication of ‘nice knowing you’ is that you are saying farewell for the last time.

At the same time, ‘nice knowing you’ can be used in a joking manner to imply that someone is doing something risky enough that they might never return. Similarly, a person that expects that they are doing something foolish might say ‘nice knowing you’ in a lighthearted manner before performing the action.

When used sincerely, this phrase isn’t one that you will find yourself using often. Instead, it is only really appropriate when you are saying goodbye to someone that you don’t ever expect to see again. If you say ‘nice knowing you’ to someone that you will see again, it will come off as odd and maybe even rude, as you’re implying that you don’t want to talk to them, see them, or know them anymore.

‘Nice knowing you’ can also be used in less pleasant contexts. For example, someone might coldly say:

‘It was nice knowing you, but I don’t think we should see each other anymore’

Used in certain situations, ‘nice knowing you’ can seem very harsh indeed.  Especially if they were breaking up with a person, they were dating.

A person could also say ‘nice knowing you’ in a somewhat bitter way if they are upset that the other person is leaving and fears that it means they won’t ever see each other again.

Finally, you could also use ‘nice knowing you’ in a way that expresses the fact that you appreciate having a relationship of one sort or another without implying that you won’t ever see the person again. In this instance, you might say:

“it really is so ‘nice knowing you.’ I’ve learned so much from you since we first met.”

Where Does 'Nice Knowing You' Come From?

Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that the phrase ‘nice knowing you’ appears to not show up in any publications until the early 20th century. For the second half of the twentieth century, it was most commonly used between the 1940s and the 1960s until around the turn of the 21st century.

This first example comes from an October 1949 issue of Boys’ Life magazine:

“Beetle Britton was properly sympathetic, as he accompanied Jughead part of the way back. ‘It was real nice knowing you, Jughead. You made the term very diverting. But your star has set. Write us from Siberia!’”

We find another example of this phrase in the D. H. Lawrence publication entitled Kangaroo from 1923:

“‘That’s why it’s so nice knowing you,’ said Kangaroo. ‘And you, of course, are a glass finger-bowl with a violet floating on it, you’re so transparent,’ said Jack.”

Finally, let’s look at another example from a publication from 1943 titled Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Military Affairs United States Senate:

“After the war they will take these fences down and say, ‘It has been nice knowing you, gentlemen, disperse and do as you see fit.’ We had a lot of trouble here before. We have a law here that has been circumvented by various and sundry parties and we are very much concerned over this.”

Examples of 'Nice Knowing You' In Sentences

How would you use the phrase ‘nice knowing you’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples:

  • “I’m so glad you spent the summer here. Though I’m sad to see you go, I’m excited about your next adventure. It’s been nice knowing you, and I wish you nothing but the best in the future!”
  • “You’re going to tell your Dad that you dented his Mercedes? Well, it’s been nice knowing you, Tom.”
  • “You are absolutely nuts for riding a segway in this weather. Nice knowing you!
  • “Well, nice knowing you guys. I’m about to show my Mom my algebra test score. The next time I see you all, you’ll probably be married with kids.”
  • “I truly can’t believe that you don’t want to be together anymore. Though I am hurt, I want to say that it’s been so nice knowing you– I’ll never forget you.”
  • “When she got in the car to drive to college for the first time, her father jokingly yelled, ‘nice knowing you!’
  • “I wanted to say how lovely it’s been to have you as a coworker. It’s been really nice knowing you, and a pleasure to work together over the last few years. I wish you good luck with your future endeavors, and I hope you stay in touch!”
  • “After all that we’ve been through, he just sent me an email saying “nice knowing you.” Can you believe that?”
  •  “She said she felt like she was wasting her time with me and screamed ‘nice knowing you!’ before walking out of my life forever.”
  • “I am so happy that Ming has been a part of our family for the past year, thanks to the exchange program. Ming, I want to say it’s been so nice knowing you, and I hope you’ll write to us when you get back home.”
  • “I was hoping to leave the door open for a potential relationship in the future, but he simply said ‘nice knowing you’ when we parted ways.”

Final Thoughts on 'Nice Knowing You'

‘Nice knowing you’ can be a sweet way to say goodbye to someone that you don’t expect to see again, but it can also be a humorous, sarcastic, or even rude comment depending on the tone and the context. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are using it in the way you intend so you don’t accidentally turn a kind, genuine goodbye into a misunderstanding.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases? Be sure to check out our English idioms blog for idioms, expressions, adages, and more.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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