Never mind
Does anyone have any thoughts on the history of the phrase "never mind", meaning "I won't (or don't you) worry about it"? Sometimes it takes the form "never mind eh!" (or should that be "ay"?). The meaning is clear enough from the words, but the structure is a bit odd, and I wonder if it started with some performer/writer.

It was, of course, the catchphrase of Emily Litela (Gilda Radner) on Saturday Night Live, but it's certainly much older than that. Is it British in origin? Is it of WWII vintage?

Frank Pierce
"Never mind" is certainly older than the second World War. But mind, in the UK, has a more broad meaning than here, where it's more commonly closely associated with the cognitive functions of the brain.

Think of "Mind the bridge", meaning be careful in crossing, "Minding the store" to take care of it while I'm gone. "Mind your manners..." etc.

In all cases there's an implication of concern, taking all factors into account, etc. I've heard older people say "Never YOU mind" but I'd guess that the pronoun has gradually been dropped.

It's as bad as the one that bothered me last year though: "Not to worry."

Lewis Joplin II
never-mind (noun) -- in phrase: "make no never-mind" to make no difference. 1924 Isman "Weber & Fields" 83 (ref. to 1880s) "Dot makes no nefer mind." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.
I did finally find "never mind" in the OED (under "mind", not "never", duh!), and it gives an obscure quote from 1814, but that doesn't help much. I think I'm resigned to accept that there are lots of colloquialisms about worrying -- whether it's me worrying or not, or you worrying or not - and these fall in and out of favor over time. So I have decided to accept the advice I've been given and "never mind", "chill out", "dinna fash yersel", "don't get your knickers in a twist", "no worries" etc., etc., and adopt Alfred E Neumann's philosophy of "wot, me worry?"...... "whatever!"
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