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Pray tell

Posted by Sauerkraut on February 01, 2001

In Reply to: Pray tell posted by Lynnwood on January 31, 2001

: Where did the phrase "pray tell" come from and what exactly does it mean?

The usage of "pray" was wuite common in medieval England, and was used to mean "please". Earlier writings used "prithee", short for "I pray thee".
From there the use and meaning are apparent, since pray is a form of supplication.

I doubt that any source can be determined, but pick up a Shakespeare collection, and you wouln't read far befor encountering the usage.