Be my guest is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom be my guest, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
Be my guest is an affirmation that one is welcome to do something or use something or to make oneself comfortable as if in one’s own home. The inference is that the person offering the phrase be my guest is being hospitable. The idiom be my guest only came into use in the 1950s; it was popularized by Conrad Hilton’s autobiography, Be My Guest, and various advertising campaigns. The idiom be my guest originated in the United States.
If you want to pay R600 for half a kilogram of something that tastes like over-spiced tree bark, be my guest. (Daily Maverick)
“If they want to take me to court, and waste the taxpayers’ time and money, well be my guest because they’re the one that’s going to pay for it, not I,” Steffan said. (NWI Times)
I’ve often commented about low interest rates, most recently arguing that they were essentially saying “be my guest” in terms of extending government borrowing to meet urgent needs. (Washington Post)