long time no see

Save This Word!

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]

We could talk until we're blue in the face about this quiz on words for the color "blue," but we think you should take the quiz and find out if you're a whiz at these colorful terms.
Question 1 of 8
Which of the following words describes “sky blue”?
Meet Grammar CoachWrite or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar helpImprove Your Writing
Meet Grammar CoachImprove Your Writing
Write or paste your essay, email, or story into Grammar Coach and get grammar help
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.

How to use long time no see in a sentence