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“No worries”

Posted on June 20, 2016 | Comments

“No worries,” said the personable young man who was helping me out of the store with a cart full of bottled water. Hmm, I thought, I wasn’t worried. I was simply saying ‘thank you’ for his assistance.

“I really appreciate your help, Aaron,” I said as he was putting the bottles in my car.

Again, he answered, “No worries.” And when I attempted one more time to thank him at the end, he signed off with a “No worries” response.

What happened to, “You’re welcome,” or “My pleasure,” when someone says thank you? Needless to say, if it didn’t bug me, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.

To avoid immediately launching into some kind of “respectful rant” about the overuse of this “No worries” comment, I’ll lead off with a few facts about the origins of this phrase. After that, I make no guarantees.

Won’t bore you with the stats on how many times per million words ‘No worries” is spoken. Instead, here’s some trivia tidbits that you can tell your friends at the next meet up.

The “No worries” phrase originated in Australian and was popularized during the 1980’s by the movie Crocodile Dundee. The catch phrase of the main character named Hogan was, ‘No worries, mate.’

The full-length musical number, “Hakuna Matata” in Disney’s 1994 animated feature, The Lion King, normalized “No worries” for an entire generation of children here in the United States. Now I feel conflicted because I love that movie.

In 2000, our American broadcasters often used the phrase during the Sydney Summer Olympics You know what “they” say about hearing something over and over…it tends to sink in whether we like it or not.

Suppose I should be grateful that the good old USA is sixth in worldwide usage of the “No worries” phrase. Not really. Until I can get over my frustration with the phrase, guess I won’t be visiting the top five countries, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines any time soon. That’s okay. Except for the Philippines, I had the privilege of seeing these wonderful countries before the phrase started gaining traction.

Back on the home front, I can see how “No worries” got a foothold. It sounds similar to its predecessor, the worn-out English version of “No problem” which you can correctly assume I’m not a fan of either. Neither response typically has anything to do with the initial statement. As one blogger put it, “No worries” is the standard answer for everything from an apology to your response at the grocery store when asked if you want paper or plastic.

Being a word warrior (picky about word choices), it boils down to this: I have an aversion to what should be a positive response starting off with a negative.  It’s a hiccup for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think the word “No” definitely has its place. Vernon Howard claims that “No” is a complete sentence. I totally agree and often remind myself that I don’t have to explain, rationalize, defend or justify my answer. Likewise, expressing concern or worry also has its place. Whether it’s valid or not, I want my feelings acknowledged rather than what feels as if they are being quickly dismissed by a blanket “No worries” response.

So what am I to do the next time I hear “No worries?” Here’s a thought: Answer it with a question such as, “Who said I was worried?” As long as I say it with a smile on my face and a twinkle in my eye, there should be no problem or need to worry that it will be taken the wrong way…right?



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  1. Come to think of it, I use those phrases, too, without really thinking about it. In an area of Germany where I once lived, people used to say hello by saying “mahlzeit” which literally translates into “mealtime.” I never understood what eating had to do with my friendly greeting. Next time someone says “thank you,” maybe I’ll hit ’em with a “mealtime” and see what happens. When they look confused, I’ll just say, “What were you expecting? Something “normal” like “no worries?”

    • Love your humorous take on this Steve. Thanks for the chuckle!

  2. I thought about this and I can’t recall ever saying “no worries”.

    • It doesn’t seem like your kind of comment, Nancy.

  3. I never hear “no worries”– I hear “no problem” ALL the time. Hate it! I’m with you . . . whatever happened to “You’re welcome??”
    I guess I’m glad that whatever I thanked someone for doing was no problem, but “you’re welcome” would seem a lot less automatic and more responsive.

    And I started three consecutive sentences with “I”. Is that a problem?

    • It’s fine with me, Bob. What was a challenge was answering your question without using “I” or a negative at the beginning of my response. Love all the wordsmiths here. Appreciate your comments.

  4. Absolutely agree with what you have presented. Personally I do not like the less than thoughtful automatic response which covers nothing I am about since worries are not part of my life. Good material my friend!

    • You are definitely a worry-free person, Rosalind. Gold stars for all of your great work!

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