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I have only ever been taught one Latin translation for "thank you", and it is gratias agere (conjugated in a suitable way). I just checked in L&S that this is indeed an attested use of gratia, often with agere.

Was this this the only common phrase in classical Latin to express one's gratitude? Are there other ways to say "thank you" than gratias tibi ago and similar variants of gratias agere? If there are several, I would like to know the most common and important ones. I realize that one possible answer is "no, that's the only phrase"; since proving negatives is hard, I will take your word for it if voting shows that the expert opinions coincide.

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I have found some alternatives to gratias tibi ago in the literature. I limited my search for simple, conversational thank yous. These fall into two broad groups:

  • Thanks expressed using “thanksgiving”:

habeo gratiam

This occurs frequently in Plautus, often standing alone for a straightforward “thank you”. It also appears in Terence’s The Brothers.

fateor, habeo gratiam

I admit it, thank you

Plautus, Persa

Here it is with the object of thanks in the dative:

Epidico habeas gratiam

you should thank Epidicus

Plautus, Epidicus, act 2, scene 2

gratum/grata mihi est

Cicero uses this quite a bit. A couple of examples:

domum meam quod crebro invisis est mihi valde gratum

thank you very much for keeping a close eye on my house

Letters to Atticus, 80 (IV.5), Antium, soon after 79

… tamen mihi grata hortatio tua est

nevertheless, thank you for your encouragement

De Finibus, 5.6

Here without the dative pronoun:

gratum est quod patriae civem populoque dedisti

thank you for producing a citizen for the fatherland and the people

Juvenal, Satires, 14.70

Here alone:

gratum est

thank you

Seneca, Medea, act 3, line 553

Even more brief:

quod Lucceio scribis te nostram gloriam commendaturum et aedificium nostrum quod crebro invisis, gratum

for writing that you will recommend my glory to Lucceius and for keeping a close eye on my home, thanks

Cicero, Letters to Atticus, 85 (IV.9), Naples, 27 April 55

  • Thanks expressed as pleasure and assent to the preceding action/suggestion etc:

bene facis

Iuppiter: iam nunc irata non es? / you’re not still angry, are you?

Alcumena: non sum / no, I’m not

Iuppiter: bene facis / thank you

Plautus, Amphitryon, act 3, scene 2

bene vocas

Here, combined with gratia est:

Erotium: eamus intro, ut prandeamus / let’s go inside and have lunch

Sosia: bene uocas, tam gratia est / thanks but no thanks

Plautus, Menaechmi, 2.3.36

bene

“en” inquit, “hospitium”. “Bene” ego …

“Welcome” he said. “Thanks” I replied …

Apuleius, Metamorphoses, 1.22

optime

“nam et a te perfici istam disputationem volo nec tua mihi oratio longa videri potest.” “Optime,” inquam …

“for I wish that you finish your argument and no speech of yours could seem to me long.” “Thank you very much” I said …

Cicero, De Finibus, 4.44

  • 1
    Looking at how long my answer is (yikes!), I realise that that last quotation is quite apt really ... :) – Penelope May 22 '17 at 7:53
  • 2
    Fantastic answer, and no need to apologize for the length! It's great to have all these collected in one place. Tuum mihi responsum longum videri non potest. Optime! – Ben Kovitz May 22 '17 at 9:01
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    Bene facis, habeo gratiam! – Joonas Ilmavirta May 22 '17 at 17:15
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Primarily when giving thanks to the gods, constructions with grates were also used. For example:

vobis (dis) grates ago atque habeo.

See more examples by following the link to L&S.

Of course there are many more ways to express thanks. I'm thinking about constructions in the final dative case (dativus finalis) such as tibi honori est and tibi laudi est. But that might be another topic.

  • 1
    There's also gratulor + dative. – C. M. Weimer Apr 21 '17 at 15:45

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