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many happy returns

Also, many happy returns of the day. Happy birthday and many more of them, as in I came by to wish you many happy returns. This expression was first recorded in a letter of 1779 where the writer meant “Happy New Year,” but the present meaning has persisted since the second half of the 1800s.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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