long time no see

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Unknown. Attested US 1901,[1] presented as pidgin English by a Native American. Possibly a calque of Cantonese, comparable to no can do or chop-chop – if so, most likely US Chinatown origin, alternatively British Far East such as Hong Kong.[2] Alternatively, native American origin, or native coinage as pidgin, particularly in cinematic portrayals of native Americans;[2] compare language used by Tonto (1930s).


long time no see

  1. (idiomatic) I (or we) have not seen you for a long time.
    Dave! Long time no see! How’s Boston been treating you?
    • 1901, W. F. Drannan, Thirty-One Years on the Plains and in the Mountains:
      Good morning. Long time no see you.

Derived terms[edit]



  1. ^ James A. H. Murray [et al.], editor (1884–1928) A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford English Dictionary), London: Clarendon Press, OCLC 15566697; and The Oxford English Dictionary; being a Corrected Re-issue with an Introduction, Supplement, and Bibliography of A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (the First Supplement), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933, OCLC 2748467.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Partridge, Eric, and Beale, Paul (2002). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, p. 1386. Routledge. →ISBN, →ISBN.