Worldly Ways to Say “Thank You”

Thank you

This small but mighty phrase, which dates from the 15th century, goes a long way in acknowledging kindnesses big and small. The less formal variation that many of us use today to express gratitude, thanks, appeared in Shakespeare's writings (in the way we use it today). Before then, the word thank was often used to mean "thought" or "good will."

Thanks a ton is another version of the simple thanks. A ton is very heavy, and it denotes a unit of weight equaling 2000 pounds. So, this casual expression of thanks lets someone know that you really mean it, because they can easily lock onto how big a ton really is.

Gracias

This Spanish word for "thank you" shares roots with the English word grace in the form of the Latin gratus, which means "pleasing" or "agreeable." If this mellifluous term doesn't sufficiently capture the degree of your gratitude, try out muchas gracias or muchisimas gracias, which translate roughly to "many thanks."

Beholden

If you state (to someone) that you will "always be beholden" to them, that means you will always have a feeling of obligation and indebtedness to them. This one seems archaic—like you’d hear Charles Ingalls say "Beholdin’ to you, Nels," on the Little House On The Prairie TV series set in the 1800s.

Indeed, the word comes from the early 1300s . . . way before Little House. So, if you want to bring some old-world class and prestige to your "thanks," try this one out.

Mahalo

To infuse your gratitude with some tropical flavor, try mahalo. This Hawaiian word for "thank you" is sometimes expressed as mahalo nui loa, the Hawaiian equivalent of "thank you very much." Ah, sounds peaceful.

Arigato

This Japanese term for "thank you" was famously set to music in the 1983 Styx song "Mr. Roboto," about a rock-and-roll performer disguised as a robot escaping a futuristic prison. Domo arigato is the Japanese equivalent of "thank you very much."

Ta

The perfect solution for the grateful but taciturn, ta is a British colloquialism ushered into the English lexicon by toddlers. British etymologist Ernest Weekley described it as the "natural infantile sound of gratitude."

Merci

A cousin of the English word mercy, this French word for "thank you" is often paired with beaucoup for emphasis, as in merci beaucoup. Another common French variation is mille fois merci, which translates literally to "a thousand times thanks" and is akin to the English phrase thanks a million.

Words cannot describe/express

This is an interesting phrase because this thing that you received is so amazingly terrific you just can't find the words to express yourself. You're totally overwhelmed. Gobsmacked, if you're in the UK.

Basically, by saying this you're hinting that a thankful expression made up of "mere words" won't do this situation justice. That's a real compliment (especially from a dictionary).

Danke

Las Vegas crooner Wayne Newton put this German word for "thank you" on the tips of English-speaking tongues with his 1963 hit "Danke Schoen." In this expression, schoen means "beautifully," but since we don't use "beautifully" in the same way in English, the German expression is often translated as thank you very much or thank you kindly.

Cheers

No, not the Boston bar where everybody knows your name. Of course, in (ahem) the Colonies, we say "cheers" when we want to lift a toast to a special occasion, but across the Great Pond, cheers is the top way of saying "thank-you" in Britain. (Number two would be the previously mentioned ta.)

Cheers is also popular Down Under. The blog Jones Around The World says "It's a way of saying thanks, understanding, drinking, and also a way of saying hello and goodbye."

Grazie

Here’s one that most of us mispronounce on a regular basis. Graht-see is how it's said in the US, but in Italy, it’s Graht-see-eh (pronouncing all the syllables). If you’re truly thankful and want to stay in the Italian mindset, try Grazie Mille, pronounced "Graht-see-eh Meel-leh." This means "a thousand thank-yous" or the more understated, simple "thanks a lot."

Grateful

We define grateful as "warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful." If you tell someone you are grateful for what they've done, they instantly perceive it to be a heartfelt expression. Go ahead and slot the word gratitude in here too, as we list that word as a synonym for gratefulness.

Hey, music lovers: Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia came up with the band's name when he flipped open a dictionary and found this word!

Tack

Ah, Sweden. Land of clear, glistening skies, picturesque lakes and valleys, ABBA, and . . . tack. Not a tack as in what you use on a bulletin board, either.

The Swedish Language Blog mentions some variations, like tack så mycket, which means "thanks so much" or "thank-you very much." There’s also tusen tack which means "a thousand thanks" and stort tack (not to be confused with short stack), which means "big thanks."

Pleased

Saying that one is "pleased" with something is also a way to express your thanks. The "something" in question, whether it's an "A" in chemistry or your wife buying you a car for Christmas, gives you the feeling of pleasure. Easy enough.

Spasibo

That’s the English way of spelling the Russian word for "thank you." The Learn Russian blog mentions "'If you want to emphasize how grateful you are, say 'bolshoe spasibo' or even 'ogromnoe spasibo'—a big and giant thank you correspondingly." Works for us!

Appreciate

To appreciate means to "to be grateful or thankful for" and "to value or regard highly; place a high estimate on." (It can also refer to an increase in value though.) To appreciate someone's gesture means you truly place an emotional value to what they've said or done. This one gave you all the feels, right?

Shukran

That is the English spelling of the Arabic word for "thank-you." Hey, movie fans: Roger Moore used this word in the 1977 007 movie "The Spy Who Loved Me." Remember, when he was traveling across the desert on a camel, and ran into a former school chum living as a sheik? This happens all the time! Yep, right there. Shukran.

Asante

We admit you may not have the occasion to use this word in a sentence, but we like it because it sounds elegant. Asante means "thank you" in . . .  Swahili! If you want to emphasize your gratitude, try Asante-sana. This means "Thank you very much!" There is a close meaning in French, too. "Good health" translates in French to bonne santé.

Accepting thanks

Alright, we've run down various ways to say thanks. What about ways to accept thanks?

Expressions like don't mention it, it wasn't a problem at all, not at all, and it's nothing are self-deprecating in nature. Other more humble choices could include that's all right, you're very welcome, it's my pleasure, and the pleasure is all mine. And, of course, if you say it with the right inflection, you're welcome is a true classic.