Pretty please (with sugar on top)

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14 comments on this post.
  1. Jacki:

    It must have been earlier than the 1950s. It was popular in our household in the late 1940s. In fact I remember building entire sundaes and banana splits while pleading for a pony. At the age of 4, 5, and 6, I had a great deal of difficulty comprehending the word “no”.

  2. Kathy:

    I was trying to figure this out myself. I think its an english phrase with german roots.

    “bitte schoen” means “beautiful (pretty) please”

  3. Roberta:

    Kathy, “bitte schoen” in German means “You’re welcome” or “There you go” (as “Voila” in French),
    and isn’t used to ask for something.

    Good try, though.

  4. Ruth:

    “Bitte” can be used for “please” as well as for “thank you.”

    If a German speaker were conversing in English and did not understand, he might request “Bitte, auf Deutsch.” which would mean “Please, (say it) in German.”

  5. Draxonfly:

    Don’t forget the cherry.. when I was young it was “pretty please with sugar on top and a cherry” ..

  6. Robyn:

    FYI- Once I saw this, and saw how rude Roberta was I decided to contact a friend of mine that came to Canada where I live as an exchange student from Germany and has spoke the language, and lived(s) there is whole life.

    Here is his response quoted. Bear in mind his English isn’t the best.

    “hey… “bitte schoen” means “you are welcome” and “pretty please” is actually almost the same, if u translate it word by word… what for do u use it??? to strengthen a request??? i’m not sure if there is a way to translate it for this way… since we only say “bitte” (please) or double it “bitte, bitte”…”

  7. steve:

    The phrase dates back to at least 1948 as it appears on P.55 of the play by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, “Life With Mother”, which opened on Broadway on October 20, 1948.

  8. Yvonne:

    Thanks all. We remembered something about sugar and a cherry but couldn’t remember exactly.

  9. v.k. venkov:

    Close, but no cigar.

    Pretty please comes from Middle English “prithee”, itself a contraction from “I pray thee”.

  10. Russ Fulton:

    Dear v.k.,

    That’s what I thought. How did you confirm it? –rf

  11. Thomas at My Porch:

    The 1932 novel Year Before Last by Kay Boyle uses the phrase ‘prithee please’. It seemed to me like there must be some link to pretty please. (Prithee is a later version of pray thee)

  12. Thomas at My Porch:

    I just noticed that v.k. above already got it right.

  13. Tony:

    16th century, when sugar from colonies became widely available. Look at cookbooks, and fruit cake. Sugar sweetens fruit liquifies it, also used as preservative.

  14. roguebfl:

    found a use of the phrase in The Sun of New London, Connecticut, January 13, 1917:

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