Literally, “well come”, from Old French bienvenue; compare also bienvenu (without the -e). Presumably a calque of an Old Frankish term, from Proto-Germanic *wiljakwumô (“a welcome guest or arrival”), from which many modern Germanic forms descend, as English welcome.
Its use in the sense “you’re welcome” is recent and found only in Canada, due to influence from English; English “you’re welcome” dates from early 20th century, French Canadian usage correspondingly later.
bienvenue f (plural bienvenues)
- Mesdames et messieurs, je vous souhaite la bienvenue.
- Ladies and gentlemen, I bid you welcome.
- Bienvenue à Paris! ― Welcome to Paris!
- Bienvenue dans la maison. ― Welcome to the house.
- (Quebec) you're welcome (as an answer to thank you)
- Merci pour le party! — Bienvenue.
- Thanks for the party! — You're welcome.