long time no see
long time no see
- informal way to greet someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
- implies familiarity and closeness with the person you are greeting.
- shows acknowledgment of the passage of time since the last meeting in person.
- indicates a history or past relationship between the speaker and recipient.
- conveys a sense of nostalgia and fondness towards the person being greeted.
- suggests happiness or excitement at seeing the other person again.
- functions as a light-hearted and conversational way to start catching up after time apart.
- Long time no see! It’s been ages. How have you been?
- Hey there, long time no see. How’s life been since we last spoke?
- Long time no see! Missed catching up with an old friend. How’s everything?
- Long time no see! Good to see you again after so long! What have you been up to lately?
- Long time no see. Great to run into you. What’s new?
- Hey you! Long time no see. Fill me in; what have I missed lately?
The origins of the phrase “long time no see” are unclear but likely stem from non-native English speakers. There are two main possibilities:
Native American Origin: The earliest known published usage of the phrase “long time no see” was in William F. Drannan’s 1900 Western novel Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains. In the novel, Drannan attributes the greeting to a Native American man: “Good morning. Long time no see you.” Another Western published the same year also used the phrase in the speech of an American Indian. This suggests the phrase may have originated from Native American pidgin English.
Chinese Origin: The phrase “long time no see” could be a loan translation from “hǎojǐu bújiàn,” a similar Mandarin Chinese phrase meaning “long time, no see.” Accounts from the 1900s describe sailors in the U.S. Navy picking up the phrase from Chinese people through pidgin English, lending weight to the Chinese origin theory.
However, the resource notes that literature from the late 1800s and early 1900s attributing the phrase to non-native English speakers may not accurately represent their actual speech.
The timing and details provided in these early accounts are uncertain. By the 1920s, the phrase “long time no see” began to be used as a standard greeting in American English, appearing in publications like Good Housekeeping magazine. Through the 20th century, the phrase became entrenched in American slang and obscured its possibly non-native origins.