Did someone say ‘you are most welcome’ to you after you said ‘thank you,’ and you’re wondering what this phrase means?
In short, ‘you are most welcome’ is most commonly used as a response to ‘thank you’ but can also be used to express that another person is invited or allowed to do a specific thing.
‘You are most welcome’ is a phrase that can be primarily used in two ways:
In terms of the first definition, an example would be if your friend thanks you for watching their cat while they were away on vacation, you could say, ‘you are most welcome.’
An example of the second usage might be if you wanted to communicate to someone that you are happy to have them in your home and that you want them to come again. In this instance, you might say, ‘you are most welcome here anytime.’
The more common meaning of the phrase, however, is the first definition-- "a response to something sharing their thanks or gratitude for something."
‘You are most welcome’ is a fairly formal way to respond to a ‘thank you.’ The ‘most’ in the phrase– meaning “to a very great degree” or “to the highest degree”– is combined with the word ‘welcome,’ which refers to receiving something or someone gladly or permitting them to do something.
This implies a superlative nature to the standard ‘you’re welcome,’ communicating that they are welcome to the highest possible degree.
The word ‘welcome’ comes from the Old English word wilcuma which was an exclamation of kindly greeting, which itself comes from the same word with an earlier meaning of “one whose coming suits another’s will or wish.”
Though the phrase ‘you’re welcome’ is highly common these days, its use as a formulaic response to ‘thank you’ isn’t attested until the early 20th century.
We find even older evidence of the phrase ‘you are most welcome,’ however, using the Google Books Ngram Viewer.
In a publication from 1825 entitled The London Stage; A Collection of the Most Reputed Tragedies, Comedies, Operas, Melo-Dramas, Farces, and Interludes, we find the following phrase:
“Welcome, sir! By your dress, you are of the church, and consequently a messenger of comfort. You are most welcome, sir.”
In an even earlier publication from 1812, The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher, we also find the phrase ‘you are most welcome’:
“Oh, Signor Piniero, you are most welcome! How does your noble Uncle?”
It even appears in the work of William Shakespeare, with one of the characters in his tragedy Coriolanus stating:
“You are most welcome home.”
However, each of these examples are using the older meaning of the word ‘welcome,’ implying that the person is being received well. These appearances, therefore, don’t negate the earlier stated notion that ‘you’re welcome’ and the related ‘you are most welcome’ as responses to ‘thank you’ didn’t start appearing until 1907.
How would you use 'You Are Most Welcome' in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples.
Person B: “You are most welcome! I’m glad you can find a use for them– we grew so many this year they would have just rotted on the vine.”
Person B: “You are most welcome! You know I’m always here if you need me.”
Person B: “Of course! You are most welcome. It’s no problem for me at all.”
Person B: “You are most welcome. It’s been a pleasure learning more about your business plan, and we’re always glad to help if we can.”
You are most welcome’ is one of the many appropriate responses to someone thanking you. Other options include:
There are a number of more casual ways to respond to a ‘thank you,’ including:
‘You are most welcome’ is a polite and kind way to respond to ‘thank you.’ Beyond the standard ‘you’re welcome,’ it can imply sincerity in your statement. At the same time, it can come off as a bit formal, so you might choose a more casual response like ‘anytime’ or ‘no problem’ if you feel an informal response would be more appropriate to the context.
What was that? Did you say ‘thank you’ for this article explaining the meaning of this relatively common phrase?
Why it’s no problem at all– ‘you are most welcome’!
If you’re ready to dive into more English idioms and phrases, head right over to our idioms blog.
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