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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

Contributor: Matt Errey