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A not very welcoming message on a doormat


From Middle English welcome, wolcume, wulcume, wilcume, from Old English wilcuma ("one whose coming is pleasant, a welcome person or thing, a guest"; compare also wilcume(welcome!, interjection)), from Proto-Germanic *wiljakwumô(a comer, a welcomed guest), equivalent to will(desire) +‎ come(comer, arrival). Cognate with Scots walcome(welcome), West Frisian wolkom(welcome), Dutch welkom(welcome), German willkommen(welcome), Danish and Norwegian velkommen(welcome), Swedish välkommen(welcome), Icelandic velkomin(welcome), Low Saxon: walkommen.

Similar constructions are common in Romance languages, such as Italian benvenuto, Spanish bienvenido, French bienvenue, Catalan benvingut, Portuguese bem-vindo and Romanian bun venit, each meaning “[may you have fared] well [in] coming [here]”. These do not derive from Classic Latin, where a similar construction is not found, and presumably are instead the result of a calque from Germanic to Proto-Romance (Vulgar Latin).



welcome (comparative more welcome, superlative most welcome)

  1. Whose arrival is a cause of joy; received with gladness; admitted willingly to the house, entertainment, or company.
    a welcome visitor
    Refugees welcome in London!
    • William Cowper (1731-1800)
      When the glad soul is made Heaven's welcome guest.
  2. Producing gladness.
    a welcome present;  welcome news
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “A very welcome, kind, useful present, that means to the parish. By the way, Hopkins, let this go no further. We don't want the tale running round that a rich person has arrived. Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing.  []
  3. Free to have or enjoy gratuitously.
    You are welcome to the use of my library.
    • 1915, George A. Birmingham, “chapter I”, in Gossamer (Project Gutenberg; EBook #24394), London: Methuen & Co., published 8 January 2013 (Project Gutenberg version), OCLC 558189256:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, but I would not go out of my way to protest against it. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. I would very gladly make mine over to him if I could.

Usage notes[edit]

Used with "in" when referring to a place, as in "I felt welcome in England", and when saying that one would like to welcome someone (before they have arrived or even if they are being prevented from coming), as on banners saying "Refugees welcome in London!" (short for "Refugees are welcome in London!").

So in a country that is not preventing refugees from coming, both banners saying "Refugees, welcome to X!" (the interjection "welcome", with a comma) and "Refugees welcome in X!" (the adjective "welcome", without a comma) are correct but mean different things.

The interjection "welcome" is always used with "to" or without any preposition ("welcome home", "welcome back"). "Welcome to X" is only used when greeting people, never when saying that one would like to invite them or is looking forward to seeing them.

The adjective "welcome" is also used with "to" before nouns that are not places and before verbs in the expressions "be welcome to something" (e.g. the last piece of cake) and "be welcome to do something" (e.g. to take as much cake as you want).




  1. Greeting given upon someone's arrival.
  2. (nonstandard, chiefly Southern US) Shortening of you're welcome.

Usage notes[edit]

When used with reference to a place, "welcome" is always followed by "to". The signs often seen in many non-English-speaking countries welcoming tourists with "in", such as "Welcome in Heidelberg!", sound unnatural to English speakers and show interference from other languages, many of which use a cognate of "in" in this situation, and especially with a cognate of "welcome".

The adjective "welcome" is used with both "in" and "to" but in different contexts.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


welcome (plural welcomes)

  1. The act of greeting someone’s arrival, especially by saying "Welcome!"; reception.
  2. The utterance of such a greeting.
  3. Kind reception of a guest or newcomer.
    We entered the house and found a ready welcome.
    • Shenstone
      his warmest welcome at an inn
    • South
      Truth finds an entrance and a welcome too.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


welcome (third-person singular simple present welcomes, present participle welcoming, simple past and past participle welcomed)

  1. To affirm or greet the arrival of someone, especially by saying "Welcome!".
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud, [] . By the time we reached the house we were thanking our stars she had come. Mrs. Cooke came out from under the port-cochere to welcome her.
  2. To accept something willingly or gladly.
    We welcome suggestions for improvement.


Derived terms[edit]

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