please

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English[edit]

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Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Middle English plesen, plaisen, from Old French plaise, conjugated form of plaisir or plaire, from Latin placēre (to please, to seem good)[1], from the Proto-Indo-European *plā-k- (wide and flat). Displaced native Middle English quemen, queamen (to please) (from Old English cwēman (to please)), Middle English biluvien (to please, delight) (from Middle English bi-, be- + luvien (to love)), Middle English liken (to like, please) (from Old English līcian (to please, be like)), Middle English lusten, listen (to be pleasing, delight) (from Old English lystan (to please)).

Alternative forms[edit]

  • pleace (used from the Middle English period up to the 15th century, and in Scots until the 17th century)

Verb[edit]

please (third-person singular simple present pleases, present participle pleasing, simple past and past participle pleased)

  1. (transitive) To make happy or satisfy; to give pleasure to.
    Her presentation pleased the executives.
    I'm pleased to see you've been behaving yourself.
    • 1922, Michael Arlen, “Ep./1/1”, in “Piracy”: A Romantic Chronicle of These Days:
      And so it had always pleased M. Stutz to expect great things from the dark young man whom he had first seen in his early twenties ; and his expectations had waxed rather than waned on hearing the faint bruit of the love of Ivor and Virginia—for Virginia, M. Stutz thought, would bring fineness to a point in a man like Ivor Marlay, […].
  2. (intransitive, ergative) To desire; to will; to be pleased by.
    Just do as you please.
    • Bible, Psalms cxxxv. 6
      Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he.
Synonyms[edit]
Antonyms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
Translations[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Short for if you please, an intransitive, ergative form taken from if it please you,[1][2] which replaced pray.

Alternative forms[edit]

  • (for the exaggerated way it is often pronounced as the expression of annoyance) puh-lease

Adverb[edit]

please (not comparable)

  1. Used to make a polite request.
    Please, pass the bread.
    Would you please sign this form?
    Could you tell me the time, please?
  2. Used as an affirmative to an offer.
    May I help you? —Please.
  3. An expression of annoyance or impatience.
    Oh, please, do we have to hear that again?
Translations[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Calque of German bitte (excuse me) [1][2]

Adverb[edit]

please (not comparable)

  1. (regional, Cincinnati) Said as a request to repeat information. [3]
    • 1973: "Bitte or Bitter?", Cincinnati, August 1973, p. 109 [4]
      Fellow: May I have a few days off to get married?
      Reply, in the Cincinnati idiom by a boss who had heard the sound but not the sense:
      Boss: Please?
    • 1978: Virginia Watson-Rouslin, "A Foreign View", Cincinnati, September 1978, p. 110 [5]
      Even though I heard it was supposed to be German-Catholic background, there’s only one thing German — they say ‘please’ [for the more common ‘pardon me’], which comes from bitte.
    • 1979: "Winners: Contest No. 13—The Laugh’s On Us", Cincinnati, September 1979, volume 12, issue 12, p. 15 [6]
      “…He explained in broken English that one of his daughters was ill and he probably could not be there. I did not understand all that he said, so asked, ‘Please?’ per Cincinnati custom. ‘There is no need to plead. I will be there if she is feeling better,’ he replied.”
    • 1998: Jose I. Sarasua, "Come to Cincinnati... Please?", Cost Engineering, volume 40, issue 5, 5 May 1998, p. 9 [7]
      Cincinnati are some of the most polite persons I have ever met in the US. When asking someone a question, instead of saying “Excuse me,” or “Pardon,” they say “Please?”
    • 2001: Jeff Robinson, "Say what?", Ohio Magazine, April 2001, p. 77 [8]
      By the same token, one contestant who doesn’t hear a particular question could say “Pardon me?” while another could say “Please?” Again, neither would be lying if he said he was from Ohio.
    • 2008: Henry Hitchings, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English, ISBN 0374254109, p. 255 [9]
      In Maine, where as much as a quarter of the population has French ancestry, you may hear a stray hair called a couette, and in parts of Ohio please is used in the same way as the German bitte, to invite a person to repeat something just said – apparently a remnant of the bilingual schooling once available in Cincinnati.
    • 2011: Ellen McIntyre, Nancy Hulan, Vicky Layne, Reading Instruction for Diverse Classrooms: Research-Based, Culturally Responsive Practice, Guilford Press, ISBN 1609180569, p. 72 [10]
      Ellen grew up outside of Cincinnati and believed her own talk was the “norm,” while others were speakers of dialects. She was in graduate school before she learned that not all people say, Please? to mean Can you repeat that?
Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 please” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  2. ^ please” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).

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