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From Middle English welcome, wolcume, wulcume, wilcume, from Old English wilcuma (“a wished-for guest”; compare also wilcume (welcome!, interjection)), from Proto-Germanic *wiljakumô (a comer, a wished-for guest), equivalent to will (desire) +‎ come (comer, arrival). The component wil- was replaced by wel- when the sense “guest” of the second component was no longer understood, possibly under the influence of French bienvenu. Cognate with Scots walcome (welcome), West Frisian wolkom (welcome), Dutch welkom (welcome) (earlier willecome), German willkommen (welcome), Danish and Norwegian velkommen (welcome), Swedish välkommen (welcome), Icelandic velkomin (welcome), Faroese vælkomin (welcome), Low Saxon: willkamen.

Similar constructions are common in Romance languages, such as Italian benvenuto, Spanish bienvenido, French bienvenu, Catalan benvingut, Portuguese bem-vindo and Romanian bun venit, each meaning “[may you have fared] well [in] coming [here]”. These do not derive from Classic Latin, where a similar construction is not found, and presumably are instead the result of a calque from, considering the ruling elite of the barbarian kingdoms which succeeded the Western Roman Empire, a Germanic language to Proto-Romance (Vulgar Latin; see Latin *bene venutus, and compare *perdono for similar historical phenomenon).



welcome (comparative more welcome, superlative most welcome)

  1. Whose arrival is a cause of joy; received with gladness; admitted willingly to the house, entertainment, or company.
    a welcome visitor
    Refugees welcome in London!
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Cowper
      When the glad soul is made Heaven's welcome guest.
  2. Producing gladness.
    a welcome present;  welcome news
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      “A very welcome, kind, useful present, that means to the parish. By the way, Hopkins, let this go no further. We don't want the tale running round that a rich person has arrived. Churchill, my dear fellow, we have such greedy sharks, and wolves in lamb's clothing.  []
  3. Free to have or enjoy gratuitously.
    You are welcome to the use of my library.
    • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828:
      As a political system democracy seems to me extraordinarily foolish, but I would not go out of my way to protest against it. My servant is, so far as I am concerned, welcome to as many votes as he can get. I would very gladly make mine over to him if I could.

Usage notesEdit

Used with "in" when referring to a place, as in "I felt welcome in England", and when saying that one would like to welcome someone (before they have arrived or even if they are being prevented from coming), as on banners saying "Refugees welcome in London!" (short for "Refugees are welcome in London!").

The interjection "welcome" is always used with "to" or without any preposition ("welcome home", "welcome back"). "Welcome to X" is only used when greeting people, never when saying that one would like to invite them or is looking forward to seeing them.

The adjective "welcome" is also used with "to" before nouns that are not places and before verbs in the expressions "be welcome to something" (e.g. the last piece of cake) and "be welcome to do something" (e.g. to take as much cake as you want).




  1. Greeting given upon someone's arrival.
  2. (nonstandard, especially Southern US) Ellipsis of you're welcome.

Usage notesEdit

When used with reference to a place, "welcome" is always followed by "to". The signs often seen in many non-English-speaking countries welcoming tourists with "in", such as "Welcome in Heidelberg!", sound unnatural to English speakers and show interference from other languages, many of which use a cognate of "in" in this situation, and especially with a cognate of "welcome".

The adjective "welcome" is used with both "in" and "to" but in different contexts.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


welcome (plural welcomes)

  1. The act of greeting someone’s arrival, especially by saying "Welcome!"; reception.
  2. The utterance of such a greeting.
  3. Kind reception of a guest or newcomer.
    We entered the house and found a ready welcome.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Shenstone
      his warmest welcome at an inn
    • (Can we date this quote?) South
      Truth finds an entrance and a welcome too.
  4. The state of being a welcome guest.
    • 1992, Dana Stabenow, A Cold Day for Murder, →ISBN, page 42:
      The townspeople crossed freely from bank to bank, and it stayed that way until breakup in March or April or, in years when winter outstayed its welcome, maybe even May.
    wear out one's welcome


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


welcome (third-person singular simple present welcomes, present participle welcoming, simple past and past participle welcomed)

  1. To affirm or greet the arrival of someone, especially by saying "Welcome!".
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 5, in The Celebrity:
      But Miss Thorn relieved the situation by laughing aloud, [] . By the time we reached the house we were thanking our stars she had come. Mrs. Cooke came out from under the port-cochere to welcome her.
  2. To accept something willingly or gladly.
    We welcome suggestions for improvement.
    • 2019, VOA Learning English (public domain)
      Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed cooperation with South Korea.


Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit