What Does "Wear Out Your Welcome" Mean?

What does it actually mean to "wear out your welcome"? This woman explains using a story from her college days.

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Idioms about welcome

    wear out one's welcome, to make one's visits so frequent or of such long duration that they become offensive: Your cousins have long since worn out their welcome.

Origin of welcome

before 900; Middle English <Scandinavian; compare Old Norse velkominn, equivalent to velwell1 + kominncome (past participle); replacing Old English wilcuma one who is welcome, equivalent to wil- welcome (see will2) + cuma comer

historical usage of welcome

The seemingly timeless phrase “You are welcome” —usually shortened to “You're welcome” —as a response to “Thank you” is actually quite recent. The phrase does not appear to have been used with any regularity until the 19th century. By the early 20th century, however, it was well established in the United States (less so in Britain) as the customary and polite way to acknowledge thanks for a favor or service, recommended in etiquette guides and taught to children along with “Please” and “Thank you.”
But the phrase “You're welcome" has always existed alongside a host of other possible responses to a thank-you, ranging from a casual “Sure” or “Any time” to more elaborate expressions like “You're quite welcome” or “My pleasure; I'm happy to help.” There is even a reciprocal thank-you: Thank you for coming to my party. Thank you for inviting me. Toward the end of the 20th century, especially among younger people and in very informal situations, it became popular to respond with a breezy “No problem”— a phrase that, though well received in some situations, can come across as flippant and dismissive of the other person's expression of gratitude. Many different forms of expression can be appropriate for acknowledging thanks for a favor or service in different circumstances; but among the varied expressions, the one that is always gracious remains the classic “You're welcome.”


Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

How to use welcome in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for welcome

Derived forms of welcome

welcomely, adverbwelcomeness, nounwelcomer, noun

Word Origin for welcome

C12: changed (through influence of well 1) from Old English wilcuma (agent noun referring to a welcome guest), wilcume (a greeting of welcome), from wil will ² + cuman to come
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with welcome


see warm welcome; wear out one's welcome; you're welcome.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.