Etymology of the word "ta"

As in “thank you”. Where did it originate? And is it a fairly new term, seeing as how presumeably the american colonists did not use it (at least, i’ve never heard anyone from NA say ta)? says that it simply mimics baby talk. The OED agrees, although I can’t provide an online cite, since I accessed it through my university.

I’ve only heard it in Australia. Is it common in Britain?

I sort of assumed it was of Scandinavian orgin (shorf for tak), but then how would it end up in Australia…?

Thanks, awfully? :wink:

Pretty common over here, yes. So that’d suggest it became widespread before the 1900’s or so.

. . . although “ta-ta” for “goodbye” is rarely heard these days except when foreign films and TV try to be English. Northerners do still actually say “ta-ra”, though. I suppose neither is in any way remotely related to “ta” for “thanks”. So why have I mentioned them?

We do? :dubious:

Doesn’t “tak” mean “yes” though?

I’ve heard “ta-ra” from Welsh people pretty often. I’m not sure about it being a Northern thing, but for some reason I can hear Cilla Black saying it in my head - maybe Liverpudlians specifically use it.
I use “ta” all the time myself, but I’ve never really thought about where it comes from. I’d guess the etymology is similar to “hi” in that it’s just the original word shortened to the extreme. “Thank you” => “Thanks” => (“Tha”) => “Ta”.
I put “Tha” in brackets because no-one actually says that, but it seems to be a missing link of sorts.

Nope, ‘tak’ is definitely ‘thank you’.

Ja = Yes
Nej = No

And I’ve never heard a Scandinavian use ‘ta’ as a shortening for ‘tak’. It’s more common in Denmark for it to be extended into ‘takker’ if anything.

I’d always thought ‘ta’ was a British thing since I’d never heard any other nationalities using it, more of a Northern thing in my mind too. With ‘cheers’ being the more Southern…but that’s purely anecdotal.


Well, when I lived in Stockport & worked in Manchester in the mid-90s, almost everyone from whom I departed used to say it. Or were they just having me on because I was a foreigner?

Possibly, or it could be specific to Manchester. In my experience, it isn’t common in Wigan / Bolton, except amongst the very old, but then they nearly speak a different language anyway :smiley:

Peter Scaeffer used it in his play Amadeus, where it confused me, an American, migtily. I’d never heard it before, although I’ve since noticed it in many places and finally figured the meaning out from context. The only meaning it seems to have is “thank you”, so the drivation from a word meaning “yes” wouldn’t seem likely, although stranger things have happened.

English people say “ta” for thank you? As an American, I’ve only heard it used to mean a sarcastic goodbye. “Like, ta, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

I’ve never heard “ta” used in that context, though I’ve certainly heard “ta-ta” used that way.

I guess so. It’s very common in Australia, but I wonder if it’s a regional thing in the UK. If it’s more common in the east, then maybe it is a leftover from the Scandinavian influence, and is a shortened version of tak. Still, that’s probably reaching…

On Keeping Up Appearances, Onslow says 'Ta" when somebody gives him a fag.

Now, that’s an entirely different thread! :slight_smile:

I’d say that *very common * is overstating it a bit.

I’m pretty sure this regional divide is correct. I think I grew up saying ‘cheers’, and adopted ‘ta’ during my exile oop north. Back home for a couple of years, and I’m definitely back to ‘cheers’.

A Scandinavian influence will show up in the North (both east and west) rather than throughout the east. We’re pure Saxon territory here :wink: