words on the chopping block


Why do people in emails and so forth nowadays close with BEST?

Best what?

Are they embarrassed or do they think it’s too formal to say BEST REGARDS? Or, as an alternative, BEST WISHES? Which one is it?

And, by the way, in emails, what’s wrong, if you don’t know the person well, with saying — in other words, writing — “Dear” and “Sincerely” for what we learned in elementary school (but I am sure is no longer taught) are called the salutation and the complimentary close?

Who came up with “best,” and why has it been ordained? Since when do we have to use shorthand when supposedly being polite?


— Roger W. Smith

   October 2017

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