Posted by Smokey Stover on February 10, 2008 at 13:06:
In Reply to: Be my guest posted by Ken on February 10, 2008 at 13:05:
: Anyone know the origins of "be my guest"?
It originates in what is suggested by the words. "Be my guest" means "act as though I were your host, enjoy my hospitality." It is similar in this respect to "Make yourself at home," or "have a ball." This latter contains the suggestion that your hospitality is not whole-hearted, as when, for instance, it is compelled by, say, the police, or the landlord. The Oxford English Dictionary says this:
"c. Phr. be my guest: you are welcome to (something); do as you wish.
1955 Amer. Speech XXX. 302 Be my guest, used when someone asks for something: 'Join me' or 'Go right ahead'. 1962 D. MAYO Island of Sin xiii. 118 Rum? Scotch? Bourbon? Be my guest. 1965 New Statesman 14 May 760/3 'Did you say something, man?' the face asked. I took a deep breath..and then I address the face. 'Not a thing, brother,' I reply, 'not a thing. Be my guest.' . . . "
The last example above exhibits the somewhat nuanced hospitality indicated above, that is, less than enthusiastic.
This term and similar ones are treated in the Archive. Enter "Be my guest" in the search box at the top of the previous page.