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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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Examples from the Web for many happy returns
Historical Examples
  • All the same, my dear friend, I wish you many happy returns; the bouquet will come later!

  • "many happy returns of the day," says I, handing it to the Boss.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • When I wished her many happy returns she shrank, as if I had hurt her.

    An Unknown Lover Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • I made the cake myself, and wish you many happy returns of the day.

    The Rainbow D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence
  • "many happy returns of the day," said Lady Muriel Howard, and she whisked her handkerchief coquettishly at her sovereign.

    The King's Men Robert Grant, John Boyle O'Reilly, J. S. Dale, and John T. Wheelwright
  • We wish you many happy returns of the day, for this and more we ever pray.

    Wilford Woodruff Matthias F. Cowley
  • I think I've been very good not to worry you long before this; but I do want to write and wish you many happy returns.

    Carnival Compton Mackenzie
  • I can at least wish you many happy returns of the day and will drink to your health on the 27th.

    Julia Ward Howe Laura E. Richards
  • It looked most festive when I came into the saloon, and they all stood up and wished me ‘many happy returns.’

    Farthest North Fridtjof Nansen
  • I was going to wish her many happy returns, when she lifted her stick.

    Great Expectations Charles Dickens

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