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how do you do?

British English FORMAL
This page is about the conversational phrase how do you do?.

Meaning: This is a very formal greeting sometimes used among members of the British upper classes.

For example:

  • After being introduced to Lord Bumbury, I said, "How do you do, my Lord? Delighted to meet you."

  • When I introduced my wife to my British grandfather, he said, "How do you do, young lady?"

Note: WARNING! This can sound very old-fashioned and pretentious, so it's best not to use it in normal situations.

Variety: This is typically used in British English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

Who might say "How do you do?" when greeting one another?

a. English judges

b. Australian farmers

c. American rap singers

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Contributor: Matt Errey