Pop Culture dictionary

please advise

[pleez ad-vahyz]

What does please advise mean?

Please advise is a formal request for information, often associated with professional correspondence. The expression is often interpreted as a passive-aggressive phrase in business contexts and tongue-in-cheek in casual contexts.

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Where does please advise come from?

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Please advise has been used in in formal contexts since at least the 18th century. In early use, the phrase was simply a polite (please) request for the listener or reader to provide some information (advise), as in “please advise your decision” or “please advise promptly of change of address.” Then and now, please advise is commonly used in legal, commercial, and other official documents.

Please advise became particularly useful in the 19th century for telegraph messages, as each character cost money, prompting great economy in phrasing. As please advise spread throughout the 1800s, it came to serve as a widely used stock phrase for reply or provide insight (e.g.,  please advise by return mail).

Please advise was carried over into email in the late 20th century, and it became used so commonly that many see the phrase as a business-writing cliché.

Examples of please advise

Is there a diet where I can lose weight and still eat cake? Please advise.
@QueenBbecT, April, 2018
[O]ur request was met with the following reply: “Sorry, that isn’t possible. The full order has already been made and is ready to ship. Please advise.”
Liz Long, Forbes, December, 2017
@MSNBC anchor @AriMelber just called #PuertoRicans living in the continental U.S. "immigrants." Please advise how a U.S. citizen is an immigrant in their own country. 🤔
@MarioBooneTV, September, 2017
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Who uses please advise?

As noted, please advise is most frequently found in formal writing, but in contemporary business or academic settings, it has popularly taken on a negative connotation.

Typically ending an email with the phrase before signing off, senders may use please advise as a serious, forceful way to revisit an issue they feel the recipient has failed to resolve.

To recipients, however, such a please advise often comes across as curt, even passive-aggressive, despite its polite register. Please advise can also suggest the sender is dumping an undesirable task onto coworkers.

Outside professional contexts, people still use please advise as a genuine way to get counsel on some matter and to point out an inconsistency, contradiction, or improbability in a person’s position or argument. More commonly in colloquial language, people use please advise ironically, playing with the stuffy formality of the phrase to get advice, usually on some more trivial matter.

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This is not meant to be a formal definition of please advise like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of please advise that will help our users expand their word mastery.