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 好耐冇見, 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).


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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]


  • Cebuano: long time no see but now, sinaw



  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1884–1928, and First Supplement, 1933.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Partridge, Eric, and Beale, Paul (2002). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, p. 1386. Routledge. →ISBN, →ISBN.