the origin of the expression "long time no see"


New Member
China, Chinese
Hi everyone

Could you please tell me the origin of the expression "long time no see"?

I have been thinking that it is invented by the Chinese American who came to the U.S long ago, and nowadays accepted as colloquial language. Actually, it is very similar to its Chinese equivalent word for word

But just now another person told me that it is derived from the Spanish mucho tiempo sin verte (mucho tiempo que no nos vemos) (I just copied the Spanish and have no idea what it means). Could you shed light on that for me

Oh by the way, I wonder if you will use "long tme no see" in formal writing like business English.

Thank you very much.
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    There's a discussion on this here:

    Briefly, there appears to be no agreement on whether this is of Chinese or Native American origin.

    It is highly informal and you wouldn't generally write it as you need to "see" the person you are saying it to. You wouldn't say this in a business context unless you knew the person very well indeed.
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