usage of when! (that's enough)

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
I understand that when! can be used as an interjection, meaning that's enough in the context of food (=stop filling my glass, stop adding some ingredient, etc.)

Would you say that this usage is still alive and kicking? I've only heard it a couple of times and that makes me wonder whether it would be understood in an everyday situation.
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This usage of "when" can only occur if someone is adding an ingredient, doesn't know how much to add, and instructs another person with "Say when!"
    I suppose this brief instruction is a short form of "Please tell me when I have added enough."
    The response might be something like "That's enough thank you," or some other polite notification of plenitude.
    But the casual response, when the required quantity has been dispensed, is "When!"

    Yes, it is alive and kicking, and immediately understood when following "Say when!"
    Without that context, it would probably still be understood to mean "That's enough thank you."


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It's a sort of lame joke: The person pouring says "Say when" (i.e. Tell me when your glass, cup, mug etc. is full enough) and the other person, pretending to take it literally, says "When!"

    The little exchange would be understood, but you wouldn't usually say "When" unless the other person had first said "Say when!" I suppose some people still say it, out of habit.



    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I've heard it used only when A is pouring B an alcoholic beverage; A says "Say when!" to B, meaning: "Tell me when to stop pouring."

    I haven't heard it in many years. In AE, I think it's rather old-fashioned.


    American English
    I couldn't classify it as old-fashioned. Still alive and kicking in the Midwest of the USA.


    Senior Member
    I've been familiar with both say when and when! but until now I didn't manage to piece the two together. Thank you for your help.
    < Previous | Next >