Why, thank you.

kurotsuru

Member
German
The following two examples contain a usage of the word “why” that I'm not really familiar with. Could someone explain to me its meaning and function?

1. “You're quite good, actually.” – “Why, thank you.”
2. “You think so?” – “Why, yes.”
 
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    The meaning and usage here is similar to "well, thank you", "well, yes", etc. It expresses a slight degree of surprise. The first example sentence you have given has become somewhat of a fixed expression in modern English (often used half-jokingly to express modesty, but also surprise at the compliment given). I don't hear the second very often.

    I hope it helps.
     

    kurotsuru

    Member
    German
    Thanks.

    Is this usage of “why” equally common in all English dialects or is it characteristic for particular regions?
     

    manon33

    Senior Member
    English - England (Yorkshire)
    Thanks.

    Is this usage of “why” equally common in all English dialects or is it characteristic for particular regions?
    I don't think it is to do with regional or geographic variation, so much as age or register. It's quite old-fashioned - almost quaint. You don't hear young people say it except in a lighthearted or frivolous way, perhaps when they are mimicking someone who does say it.
     
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