Posted by Smokey Stover on December 29, 2006
In Reply to: Re: How do you do posted by David FG on December 22, 2006
: : Meaning and origin of the phrase 'how do you do' . . and how is it properly answered
: I don't know the origin, but it is a formulaic way of saying 'hello'. It is nothing more than a greeting.
: In the UK/Ireland it is considered the formal, 'proper' form of greeting, and the 'correct' answer (according to those who compile books of guidance on etiquette) is 'how do you do' in return.
: One should simply reply in kind and not attempt to answer the question.
David is right. And one should avoid answering, "Do what?" How do you do, in the olden time, meant how do you fare? Or, updated, how's it going? To that you are permitted to answer, "Fine." If you know the other person really well, you can answer, if you wish, "Terribly. Everything's going to hell." Or not.