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Be my guest

Posted by RRC on February 10, 2008 at 13:07:

In Reply to: Be my guest posted by Smokey Stover on February 10, 2008 at 13:06:

: : 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 x. 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, or go to:

: //

If, on the other hand, you're not talking about the idiomatic meaning of "go ahead", the three words have been friends for a very long time. For example, from "The Affectionate Shepheard" by Richard Barnfield circa 1594:
"Against my birth-day thou shalt be my guest,
Weele have greene-cheeses and fine silly-bubs,
And thou shalt be the chiefe of all my feast,
And I will give thee two fine pretie cubs,
With two yong whelps, to make thee sport withall,
A golden racket, and a tennis-ball."