Have a good / great (rest of [your / the]) day

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In the "old days", when you were departing from a store or other premises, people would say to you, "have a good day".  In some cases, they might replace "good" with "great".  Within the last year or two, however, I've been hearing people who work in shops more and more say "Have a good rest of the day" or "Have a good rest of your day".  When I first heard such goodbyes, especially the latter variant, I thought they were unnatural.  I am still somewhat taken aback when I hear this sort of adieu, but since so many shopworkers and other people are saying it to me nowadays, I am gradually beginning to take it for granted, and am almost tempted to say it to others instead of "goodbye" once in a while, but it will take some time, maybe years, before I grow accustomed to saying it myself.

Another novel expression I've been hearing from shop personnel near the checkout area is "Did you find everything you wanted?"  Well, it's not exactly novel, since in the "old days" I would be asked it upon occasion, particularly if I looked disappointed or clueless upon exiting, maybe once out of fifty or so times.  But now I'm frequently hearing it more or less solicitously spoken by shopworkers.  By some workers in certain stores I'm asked that question almost every time I depart.  I seldom disappoint them, and generally (and enthusiastically) inform them, "Yes, I found everything I wanted", and sometimes cheer them up all the more by saying that I found some things I hadn't expected — except for one famous instance about a year and a half ago that is known to most Language Log readers when I had to tell the shopworkers that I did not find any pickled pigs' feet.  The poor clerks were all in a tizzy and led me all over the store till they had to confess with great disappointment and chagrin, "We don't have any pickled pigs' feet" (see under "Selected readings").


Selected readings


  1. jonathan silk said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 8:50 am

    Dutch has normally "fijne dag," which is an abbreviation of "Ik wens u een fijne dag," but one also hears fijne dag verder," which implies "the rest of the day."
    Likewise, one hears "was alles naar wens" perhaps more in a restaurant, but in a shop, when you've bought something you'll hear "anders nog iets?" abbreviated from "wilt u nog iets anders?" or something like that.
    In earlier days, I'm told, when you entered a shop you would be asked "Kan ik u helpen?" but now you're sort of ignored (this is my experience!), but at the end they will ask "heeft u alles kunnen vinden?"

  2. Julia said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 9:11 am

    Schönen Tag noch," in Germany… Does that carry about the same meaning?

  3. Mark Etherton said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 9:43 am

    "Have a nice day" has always seemed slightly risible to me (English, mid-60s), possibly because of Peter Ustinov saying that his standard response was "Thank you, but I have other plans".

    "Bonne fin de soirée" certainly used to be a normal remark when one paid the bill in the evening in a restaurant in Paris.

  4. David Tartter said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 10:59 am

    When check out clerks began consistently asking me if I had found everything I was looking for, I assumed that this was the result of a dictate from corporate headquarters.

  5. Victor Mair said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 11:39 am

    It was Frank Chance who taught me the nuances and niceties of "Irasshaimase", so I asked him if there is anything like "Sayonara" that people are supposed to say when they leave a shop, store, or restaurant?

    Frank's reply:


    When leaving a restaurant, it is optional to say “Godhisōsama“* if the meal was particularly good.

    Of course :Arigatō” or “Gokurōsama” (i.e., “Thank you”) are always appropriate if someone served you well in any establishment.

    “Sayōmara” “Sayonara” “Itte mairimasu “ or “Itte kimasu” are only appropriate if there is a really close personal (not commercial) relationship, The first two also sound really final, like you are never coming back there. The second two sound like you live in the shop…


    *Godhisōsama = “It was a great deal of work (preparing the meal).”

  6. Frank L Chance said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 12:12 pm

    A couple of quick rorrections. “Sayōmara” was supposed to be “Sayōnara” and "Godhisōsama" should be "Gochisōsama." The latter is a version of "thank you" and technically the short form of "Gochisō sama deshita." 
    ご馳走様でした the ritual utterance expected from a guest at the end of a meal, and roughly translates as "It was a feast." (The cook or host then normally replies with a ritualized "you're welcome," "Gosomatsusamadeshita" ご粗末様でした literally "It was too weak and unfinished for you" but this response is not expected from the chef or staff of the restaurant.

  7. Random reader from Germany said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 5:26 pm

    I guess working in a shop where you have to deal with customers must be pretty tough when you're the kind of person who is interested in language, or just aware of your own language use. I imagine you'll probably have to talk quite a bit, so your speech will become formulaic. And you'll probably face a lot of pressure to conform, linguistically. Having to use the (perhaps silly) terms the company has come up with for products and services and so on, or even standardised phrases to deal with customers. I have no first-hand experience, but that's at least what I imagine how it might be.

    I do suspect a certain bakery chain around here of imposing vaguely cheerful, but odd-sounding phrasings on their employees. For example, 'einen schönen Tag für Sie!', literally 'a nice day _for_ you!', which even after thousands of times sounds very unnatural to me, not only because people usually don't explicitely wish each other nice days every single time when parting, but even more so grammatically. (It should be 'Ihnen einen schönen Tag!', 'a nice day to you!'. Or rather just 'schönen Tag noch'.) But maybe that's just me…

  8. ohwilleke said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 7:34 pm

    In Colorado, the equivalent phrase, which seems to be a regional usage but is nearly universal in Colorado in that context is:

    "Have a good one."

  9. LanceW said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 8:17 pm

    I was a waiter in the '90s. And back then I never heard other servers say "Perfect" when I a customer told me their order. Seems like just about all of the servers now say this to me when I order. There's something weird about it, especially when they say it to me, and then the same to others who ordered something different from my "perfect" order.

  10. Daniel Deutsch said,

    February 11, 2023 @ 10:09 pm

    It may be less frequent now, but cashiers have often said “Have a good night” even in the morning or early afternoon.

  11. Chas Belov said,

    February 12, 2023 @ 4:01 am

    Come to think of it, I do remember waiters frequently saying "Good choice!" whenever I ordered. (They'd never say, "Ugh, what a horrible choice; why would you order that?") But I don't believe I've heard it for years, so perhaps it's gone missing from Bay Area restaurant speech.

  12. Taylor, Philip said,

    February 12, 2023 @ 6:56 am

    If a check-out assistant wishes me a good <whatever>, I make a point of responding "Thank you — and the same to you", which is usually very well received.

    But the "perfect" / "awesome" / <whatever> response to an order for food in a restaurant is almost sufficient to ensure that I never go there again, and it takes only the slightest further error on their part to tip the scales.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    February 12, 2023 @ 7:52 am

    I've only been hearing "perfect", "awesome" type responses from wait persons for about the last two or three years. The first couple of times I heard them I was somewhat taken aback, because I didn't necessarily think my choice was that good. Next couple of times, I began to think that I must be a pretty savvy orderer. After about four or five times, I realized that this was just a new type of restaurant formality. After about eight times, I realized that it wasn't so new anymore.

  14. jin defang said,

    February 12, 2023 @ 5:44 pm

    aren't we overthinking this a bit? Surely the store/restaurant's staff just want to say something pleasant to thank you for your business and hope you'll come back.

    On a slightly different note, it has been my frequent pleasure to dine at the home of the local Japanese consul-general, who has a personal live-in chef imported from Japan, though often trained abroad. At the end of the meal, which is always exquisite, he calls the chef out for a bow—literally as well as figuratively, as we guests express our thanks.

  15. Richard Hershberger said,

    February 13, 2023 @ 7:39 am

    When clerks at a given store consistently use the same awkward construction, it almost certainly is a corporate mandate. This is not new. We got this stuff decades back, when I worked retail. The corporate assumption is that the store-level staff are incapable of ordinary polite social interactions with customers, so every such interaction stands on the precipice of disaster. The solution is for these actions to be scripted. It turns out that the people writing the scripts are really bad at it. The result is that for the customer, the act of making an ordinary commercial transaction includes a stilted pseudo-conversation.

  16. BillR said,

    February 15, 2023 @ 9:43 pm

    I moved to Colorado a few years ago from Boston. I still struggle to respond to store clerks (usually grocery stores) when they ask if I have any plans for the rest of the day, or the weekend. I want to respond with, What’ve you got in mind?, but my wife won’t let me.

  17. BillR said,

    February 15, 2023 @ 9:46 pm

    Restaurant servers also will ask, shortly after having brought our food to the table, How’s that first bite tasting?

  18. RC said,

    February 16, 2023 @ 12:28 am

    When I worked at a large retailer, they exhorted us to proactively ask customers on the sales floor "can I help you find something," almost as a catchphrase. But once they had reached the register, we were specifically NOT supposed to ask if they had found everything, since it risked evoking a negative experience ("No, and I'm upset about it"), and also because any last-minute attempts at helping could interrupt the flow of a speedy checkout.

  19. Victor Mair said,

    February 16, 2023 @ 6:19 am

    About a year ago, one of the checkout persons at my local grocery store suddenly asked me if I was doing anything interesting that weekend. I was so flummoxed that I had no other way to answer than say, "No, how about you?: To which they replied, "I'm going down to West Virginia with some friends to see my girlfriend, whom I haven't seen for quite a while." "Have a nice trip," I replied, picked up my groceries, and left.

    For the next several months, they continued to engage me in similar conversations. None of the other checkout persons did anything remotely resembling that.

  20. ted thornton said,

    February 19, 2023 @ 12:05 am

    Closing of an email i received yesterday:
    Many thanks and have a weekend !

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