many happy returns

Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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