Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: RSVP.

RSVP. The abbreviation of the French phrase “répondez s’il vous plaît” (= respond if you please) is the standard request for responses to invitations. Because the phrase contains the polite idea of “please,” it’s redundant to say *”please RSVP.” Increasingly, American English is making the acronym a verb meaning either “to respond” {have you RSVP’d yet?} or “to make reservations” {admission is free, but be sure to RSVP at least two days beforehand}. That’s probably why *”please RSVP” is becoming so common — e.g.: o “If you have received an invitation, please RSVP [read ‘please respond’] . . . so the newspaper will be prepared to honor your organization.” “Political Town Hall Meeting to Be Held at Afro-Awakenings,” Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 19 Sept. 1996, at 2. o “Please RSVP [read ‘Please respond’] to the concierge at (317) 636-2121, ext. 1690.” “What’s in Store,” Indianapolis Star, 11 Sept. 1997, at 9. Language-Change Index — *”please RSVP” for “RSVP”: Stage 3. *Invariably inferior forms. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “The great writers have done for words what the kings formerly did for the coinage. They gave it whatever value they saw fit and decided the rate at which it was to be accepted by all.” J. Vendryes, Language: A Linguistic Introduction to History 274 (Paul Radin trans., 1925).
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