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Thanksgiving Why We Say Thank You

Thanksgiving! Why We Say Thank You!

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It is that wonderful time of the year again when we all take a day to think about what it is we are thankful for in our lives. Whatever you want to express your thanks for, whether it is your health, your loved ones, or even a big change that you have experienced in life you will no doubt use that common word “thanks”. While you say thank you several times in the average day, and probably more on Thanksgiving. There’s more to saying this than you realize; this practice has its own history, as you will see below:

The history of “Thank You”


The phrase “thank you” has a long history dating back, in English, to c.450 – c.1100. It is actually a derivative of the word “think” as the Old English noun “thank” was defined as “a thought”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary this then progressed to being “a favorable thought or feeling, good will”, and then to “a kindly thought or feeling entertained towards anyone for favors or services received”. This was the Medieval meaning, and as you can see it is not too far from what the phrase means today.

How to express gratitude

In the English language there are dozens of ways to express your thanks with different levels of intensity and formality, so there’s always an appropriate way to express your thanks. A good example is the colloquial British English word “cheers” which has transformed from a toast of sorts to an informal way to say thanks.

Also, what you say may change depending upon whether you’re expressing a feeling of debt to the person, or simply gratitude and appreciation. The former might be expressed by saying “much obliged” or “I owe you one” whereas the latter will be achieved with a simple “thanks” or “I appreciate it”.

thanksgiving dinner


There are hundreds of ways to express gratitude of all kinds, of course, but there are few phrases or words which match the simple efficiency of the phrase “thank you”. The use of this phrase can traced back to the fourteenth century when a very proper “I thank you” was in use. “Thanks”, of course, didn’t come into use until later on; this is not uncommon, though. Our vocabulary is ever changing, and it’s common for words and phrases to become contracted over time.

As you get ready to give thanks this year we would have you remember what an important role the giving of thanks has in our society.


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