Complimentary close

Quite a while back, I read a story (perhaps in the New Yorker or some such?) in which one character would write letters to another, and would sign off with this:


The story explained that the initials stood for "So Long, Sweet One; Consider Yourself Kissed."

I found that charming. I tried using it as a signoff in letters to certain people, but they never found it nearly as charming as I did. (Though it did spark a response from someone I'm not sure would want to be named here so I'll leave it anonymous: LYMTACS (pronounced "lime tacks"), for "Love You More Than Acronyms Can Say.")

. . . I must digress from signoffs for a moment to talk about related acronyms. I've heard of envelopes on which people have written SWAK, for "Sealed With a Kiss"; a friend of mine once wrote, on an envelope to me, "Sealed with a lick, 'cause a kiss won't stick," which made me laugh. A quick web search suggests that that's sometimes abbreviated SWALCAKWS.

Anyway. The signoff bit in a letter, just before the signature, is known as the complimentary close. I have always been fond of old-style formal complimentary closes, such as "I am, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant," especially when "obedient" is abbreviated to "obt." I've also seen abbreviations of a whole phrase, such as "yours, etc" or (as noted in Wikipedia) "I am, etc." An abbreviation for that phrase that I haven't seen before, as shown in that Wikipedia article, is "YOS."

There are lots of other common closes, of course. In English, many of them revolve around the words "yours" or "best" or "regards," though words like "sincerely" also figure prominently; also "love."

And in less formal notes to certain people, one might use a phrase like "kisses" or "xo."

Was thinking about this stuff this evening, and noticed that I'd never posted anything about SLSOCYK; in fact, a quick web search suggests that nobody has ever posted anything about that valediction. If any of you happen to know the title or author of the story that used the phrase, let me know.

Regardless (now there's a signoff), I'm now curious about what kinds of complimentary closes other people use. Do y'all use them at all? (I realize they're not common in email, but I do use them in some email contexts.) If so, which ones do you use?

6 Responses to “Complimentary close”

  1. Vardibidian

    I generally close my emails with ‘thanks,’ or ‘thank you,’. I have in the past used SWAK and SWAS (sealed with a seal), but those were of course on the outside of the envelope, not in the close of the letter.

    I am mostly moved to comment about the (possibly apocryphal) practice of using NORWICH as a complimentary close. Or BURMA. Or for that matter MALAYA.


    • Jed

      Thanks, both!

      V: 🙂 on SWAS. Can you elaborate on NORWICH, BURMA, and MALAYA?

      Michael: 🙂 on misexpansions.

  2. Michael

    I use “Yours” in almost all contexts. In particularly formal situations, I use “Sincerely”.

    I like abbreviating obedient to obt., which can then be misexpanded to obstinate or obtuse.

  3. Thomas

    I use others, but “Best” is my favorite when emailing. I learned it from a professor of mine and thought it was perfect in most situations.
    To use another acronym, I believe NORWICH may be somewhat NSFW…

  4. Jed

    Aha. A quick web search suggests that NORWICH stands for “Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home,” and BURMA is “Be Undressed (or Upstairs) Ready My Angel,” and MALAYA is “My Ardent Lips Await Your Arrival,” that last of which I find totally charming.

  5. Vardibidian

    Sorry not to respond earlier–yes, the K in NORWICH is silent.



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