“Thank You, Sir” – What Does It Mean?

We hear people say “Thank you, Sir” often, anywhere we may be. It can be in the mall, in school, in the office, or in restaurants, among many others. We often read it, too, in emails or text messages. But when we hear “Thank you, Sir,” what does it mean?

“Thank you, Sir” is a common expression of gratitude. It is a universal way of showing your appreciation for an act done for you. However, “Thank you, Sir” is specifically intended for men.

If you show gratitude to a woman, the appropriate expression is, “Thank you, Miss” or “Thank you, Ma’am.”

Read on to learn more about the expression, “Thank you, Sir,” including its origin.

“Thank You, Sir” – What Does It Mean?

thank you sir

“Thank you, sir” is a universal expression of gratitude. It is a common way of showing your appreciation for an act done for you. However, “thank you, sir” is particularly intended for men.

If you show gratitude towards a woman, the correct expression is, “Thank you, miss” or “Thank you, ma’am.”

Typically, when you know the person, and you want to express your gratitude to him, you say “Thank you,” followed by his first name, such as “Thank you, Joe.” But if you do not know a person’s name, and you want to show your appreciation to him, you then say, “Thank you, sir.”

We often hear security guards say this because they deal with quite several strangers daily. The same goes for salespeople who talk to customers every day. We even use it when we can’t remember a person’s name but would want to acknowledge his act of kindness.

Suffice it to say that “thank you, sir” is a way to show respect not only as an equal but also as a superior, in age, stature, or power, among others. Saying it also reflects how respectful you are towards others. It is a sign that you are a well-mannered person.

Origin of the Word “Thank You”

We often use the expression “thank you,” but do we know where it came from?

“Thank” is a word derived from the Latin word “tongēre” wherein “tong-” means “think.” The expression can be loosely translated to “I will remember what you have done for me.”

So, “thank” was a word that merely meant “a thought.” Then, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the translation evolved to “favorable thought or feeling, goodwill.”

By the Middle Ages, the word was described as a “kindly thought or feeling entertained for a favor or service received.” It is pretty much how we define “thank you” in this day and age.

The expression “thank you,” however, became popular only in the fourteenth century. Before that, people used the complete sentence, “I thank you.”

As we all know, the gradual condensing of a polysyllabic word or phrase over the years is common in our vocabulary evolution. Hence, “I thank you” has eventually been universally known as “thank you.”

This explains, too, why “thank you” has eventually evolved to “thanks.” In some countries, “thanks” has even evolved to “ta.” However, the most universally known expression still is, and will always be, “thank you.”

“Thank You” In Other Languages

Most English words are derived from Latin words. This is specifically true for other languages.

In Spain, the Spanish word “gracias” is literally translated to “thank you” in English. “Gracias” stems from the Latin phrase “Gratias agere,” which means “to express thanks.” In Italy, the Italian word “Grazie” also means “thank you” and evidently stems from the Latin phrase “Gratias agere.”

However, in France, the French word “Merci,” which also means “thank you,” stems from the Latin word “Mercēs,” and not from “Gratias agere.

Mercēs” means “fee, wages or price” in Latin, but its meaning evolved until the Old French word “mercit” translated to “reward, gift, grace, kindness, and pity.”

In Japan, the Japanese say “Arigatou” to express their gratitude. “Arigatou” stems from the word “arigatashi,” which is derived from two Japanese words, “aru” and “katai.” “Aru” means “to exist,” whereas “katai” means “difficult.”

Today, when Japanese speakers say “Arigatou,” it means “rare and precious.”

“Thank you” may be translated into different languages. But the fact that all nationalities know how to express their gratitude means that human communication can truly survive despite varying cultures and times.

Thank You Vs. Thanks

“Thank you” and “thanks” mean the same thing, and you may use either of the two.

As earlier mentioned, the evolution of our vocabulary has led “I thank you” to become known as “thank you” and, eventually, “thanks,” and even “ta.”

While you may use any of these phrases or words, “thank you” is still the most widely used. However, if you want to be highly formal, you may say “I thank you” because, technically, the grammar is correct. In fact, we sometimes hear this sentence in beauty pageants.

But then again, there is no need to be highly formal in this day and age. Saying “thank you” is formal enough to express your gratitude.

“Thanks” is often used when you express your gratitude towards people you are close with, as in your family or your friends. It is an informal way of expressing the same sentiments, but it is an acceptable expression even in a formal setting. We often hear this even in the workplace.

Why Do We Say, “Sir”?

thank you kind sir

The term “Sir” is mainly used for the following cases:

  • Address someone in a position of authority, primarily to show respect;
  • It is typically used in schools and universities to address their male teachers, professors, and other schools/university employees;
  • It is typically used in offices to address executives or employees of higher position; and
  • “Sir” is also how we address male strangers or men whose name we do not know — or can’t remember, for that matter. Using this term does not only show that we respect them, but it also reflects how polite we are when dealing with strangers.

Origin of the Word “Sir”

The term “sir” stems from the word “Sire,” which was commonly used in the High Middle Ages. “Sire” was how reigning kings were respectfully addressed in Europe during this High Medieval Period. This was the period between 1000 and 1250 AD.

It was in 1297 when the word “sir” was first documented. During this time, it was used as the title of honor of a knight.

Usage of the word “sir” had evolved by tradition. It became a term to address knights, and later on, also to address baronets and other offices. However, since the Late Modern era, the term has increasingly been used to address any commoners, basically to show respect and express politeness.

“Thank You Kind Sir” – What Does It Mean?

As we all know, “Thank you, Sir” is a common expression of gratitude. It is a universal way of showing your appreciation for or acknowledging an act done for you by another person.

However, “thank you, sir” is specifically intended for men. If you express your gratitude towards a woman, the appropriate expression is, “Thank you, miss” or “Thank you, ma’am.”

However, there are times when we hear people say, “Thank you, kind sir.” So, what does it truly mean? Why can’t it simply be “Thank you, sir”?

Apparently, “Thank you, kind sir” and “thank you, sir” mean the same thing. In the old times, the term “kind” was added to make it sound a little more formal and more sincere.

You could say it to express gratitude for a bigger favor or a matter of life and death favor, as compared to “thank you, sir.”

Today, we still hear people say “Thank you, kind sir,” and the expression still means the same thing. However, today, it is surprisingly being used by the younger generation.

This is mainly because the expression is incorporated in several video games, specifically in the action role-playing video game “The Elder Scrolls.”

So, at times, “thank you, kind sir” is now being used exaggeratedly. Nonetheless, it is still regarded as an expression of respect and politeness, but amusingly.

Again, “Thank you, Sir”-what does it mean? This expression is an expression showing gratitude or appreciation towards another person, specifically men.

“Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?”

You have probably come across the expression, “Thank you, sir, may I have another.” We sometimes see this as a caption for memes. But have you ever been curious where it started?

“Thank you, sir. May I have another?” was first heard in the movie “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” or simply “Animal House.” It was a 1978 movie directed by John Landis and starred excellent actors such as John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Donald Sutherland.

That famous line, however, was not even uttered by one of the main actors. During a fraternity initiation, the scene was where one of the pledges was being paddled by an older fraternity brother. For every paddle, the pledge would respond, “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

In that scene, the pledge was Kevin Bacon, and it was his very first movie.

This scene was somehow re-enacted in an episode of the TV series, “The Simpsons.” In the scene, Lenny kicks Burns to demonstrate to Homer how hierarchy must be practiced. Burns then responds, “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”

Such a line has a surprisingly saturated pop culture that it is being used in memes and by people who have not even seen the movie yet.

How to Respond to “Thank You, Sir”

thank you sir may i have another

When someone says, “Thank you, sir” to you, how would you respond?

There are different ways of responding to “thank you, sir” in a polite way. Here are some of the acceptable ones:

  1. You are welcome.
  2. You are very welcome.
  3. No problem.
  4. That’s all right.
  5. Don’t mention it.
  6. Anytime.
  7. No worries.
  8. My pleasure.
  9. It’s my pleasure.
  10. Glad to help.
  11. It was the least I could do.

In an informal setting, the above-mentioned responses are all acceptable. There are a whole lot of other acceptable responses such as “Sure,” “It was nothing,” or “Happy to help,” among others.

However, in a formal setting, not all of the above-mentioned responses are appropriate. For instance, if you are in your workplace and your client says, “thank you, sir,” you may use the following responses:

  1. You are welcome.
  2. You are very welcome.
  3. My pleasure.
  4. It’s my pleasure.
  5. Glad to help.
  6. It was the least I could do.

You may also say, “You are welcome, and thanks to you, too.”

You may use these responses in any other formal setting you may find yourself in.

Conclusion – Thank You Sir – What Does It Mean?

So, to reiterate, when you hear “Thank you, sir,” it is a universal expression of gratitude. It is a common way of showing your appreciation for a kind act done for you.

However, “thank you, sir” is specifically intended for men. If you show gratitude towards a woman, the correct expression is, “Thank you, miss” or “Thank you, ma’am.”

In this day and age, we often hear “Thank you, sir” to acknowledge a kind act done by men. It doesn’t even matter whether he is a person of rank or a commoner.

Sometimes, when our memory lapses, we temporarily forget the name of the person we are talking to. In which case, we regard him as “sir.” So, if we wish to thank him, we say, “Thank you, sir.” We may not remember his name, but we do not fail to show respect.

It’s basically the same when we wish to thank a man we don’t know the name of at all. We say, “Thank you, sir,” to acknowledge his kind act and show how respectful we are.

This only shows that “Thank you, sir” is not only a line appropriate for people with titles or high positions. This is appropriate for any man we would like to show our appreciation to.