long time no see

It's been a long time since we met, as in Hi Bob! Long time no see. This jocular imitation of broken English originated in the pidgin English used in Chinese and Western exchange. [Late 1800s]



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“I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.


More context on long time no see

Long time no see is a casual way of saying, “It’s been a while since we’ve seen each other.” While it originally comes from Chinese Pidgin English (just like the phrase no can do), beginning in the late 1800s long time no see was used to ridicule the English of Native Americans.

If knowing the history of long time no see has got you reflecting on your word choices, this slideshow, “These Common Words Have Offensive Histories,” discusses many other words whose place in your vocab you may want to reconsider. 

Keep in mind …

Instead of long time no see, consider these alternative expressions:

  • “I haven’t seen you in a while!”
  • “It’s been such a long time since we’ve seen each other!”

If you’re looking for something less formal, try:

  • “Been a while!”
  • “It’s been a minute!”
  • “It’s been forever!”

These utterances are a specific way of greeting someone you have not seen for some time. If you’re looking for other ways simply to say hello, Thesaurus.com’s door is open.