This time of year there’s a heap of Thank yous going on & a lot of you’re welcomes to boot.
Thank you has been in English usage since 1400, and comes from Germanic languages from a Proto-Indo-European root meaning to think or feel. I love the idea that thankfulness is associated with something as basic as consciousness: simply thinking & feeling. There’s something to ponder in the new year.
To my complete surprise, you’re welcome didn’t show up in English until 1907, though welcome has been in English usage since at least 600 AD. Back then welcome looked something like wilcuma. Old English speakers used this word to welcome guests with a kindly greeting. Welcome has two word parts: willa, meaning pleasure, desire or choice, & cuma, meaning guest. Etymologists translate wilcuma’s original meaning as greetings to one who suits my will or wish.
May all those who visit you in the coming year suit your will or wish, & may you find many an opportunity for heartfelt thank yous.
My thanks go out to this week’s sources, Etymonline.com, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster, Collins Dictionary, & the OED.