TGIF: The origins of the phrase and its use in countries around the world

The other day was one of those days when it was nearly impossible to get my two young sons out of bed and off to school. Before we walked out the door that morning, I said to my sons, “TGIF.”

They replied to my quick comment with two tired, utterly blank stares. And, then it dawned on me, they weren’t familiar with the saying at all.

As we waited for the elevator to come, I told them that "TGIF" stands for “thank goodness it’s Friday,” and said that it’s usually exclaimed on Fridays as a way to show your relief that the weekend is almost upon us. And, the weekend, for us, means no school, no work, more sleep and lots of family time.

At that moment, I wanted to tell them about the origin of the saying that, to this day, I still associate with the restaurant chain, TGI Friday’s, that my family frequented when I was a child. And, I wished I was able to share a similar expression in French – the language they were set to speak as soon as they walked through the doors of their school. But, I drew a blank on both accounts. So, I set out to find out more.

The origins of the phrase “TGIF” 

As noted in a Not One-Off Britishisms post, the origins of the phrase “TGIF” have been disputed over the years. But, it singles in on a 1941 entry in the Encyclopedia of Slang as being the first to use “TGIF” in print.

The post includes a quote from The Marion Star (local Ohio newspaper) that reads:

"I thought I’d heard of everything in the way of booster clubs, alumni organization and the like, but this city, home of the Ohio State university Buckeyes […] has come up with one that tops them all. It’s the “Thank God It’s Friday” Club, composed entirely of undergraduates here at State. […] A typical meeting of the TGIF club goes something like this…."

This does help prove that "TGIF" did not originate with the TGI Friday’s restaurant chain, which opened in New York in 1965. According to Not One-Off Britishisms, the TGI Friday's restaurateur is said to have named his very first establishment based on the expression, “Thank God! It’s Friday!,” which he heard during his time spent at Bucknell University, which is located in Lewisburg, Penn.

The mainstream usage of the phrase “TGIF” 

Today, I’d say you’re more likely to hear people use the abbreviated version of the saying - “TGIF.” But, when saying the whole phrase, some may choose to either say “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” or “Thank God It’s Friday” - based on their personal preference and/or beliefs.

As with so many popular phrases, it's not surprising that “TGIF” has made its way into pop culture over the years.

A 1978 movie on disco culture was called, “Thank God It’s Friday.” The movie starred Donna Summer and Jeff Goldblum, and featured a Love & Kisses song with the same name.

In 1989, ABC aired a family-friendly primetime TV block called TGIF. While it was based on the phrase, “Thank God It’s Friday,” ABC TV stars are said to have referred to the block as “Thank Goodness It’s Funny.”

In 1996, R. Kelly released a song, “Thank God It’s Friday.” The abbreviated version of the phrase later made its way into another song in 1989 - Katy Perry’s "Last Friday Night (TGIF).”

TGIF Multilingual

The use of the phrase TGIF in other languages  

While the phrase “TGIF” may trace its origin to the heartland of the US, there are slight variations or other equivalents used by people around the world. Each one serves to celebrate the end of the work week – and the fun and relaxation associated with the weekend.

Across the border, in Canada, you’ll also hear the phrase “TGIF” happily shared on Fridays. According to Poppy of Expat Mama, you’ll likely hear “TGIF” across the pond in England, too. But, according to Not One-off Britishisms, it's "not a Britishism at all."

In the Netherlands, Annemarie of Dutch Alien Lands in the US says that people do use "TGIF," but they also say “Het is bijna weekend!” (“the weekend is almost there!”).

According to Ilze of Let the Journey Begin, in Latvian, you would say, “Paldies Dievam piektdiena ir klat!,” which directly translates to “Thank God It’s Friday!”

Among Tagalog speakers in the Philippines, you are likely to hear them say "Salamat diyos ko biyerenes na," which literally translates as "Thank you my god, it's already Friday!"

According to Audrey of Espanolita, in Spanish, people say "¡Feliz viernes!" ("Happy Friday!") or "¡Buen fin de!" ("Happy weekend!").

The start of the weekend is celebrated in Portuguese with the phrase, "Fim-de-Semana!" According to Catarina of CraftieMum, the phrase can be translated as "End of the week!"

Thanks to a photo I posted on Instagram, I also learned that you can say "Hyvää viikonloppua!" (Good weekend) in Finnish, "Schönes Wochenende!" (Nice weekend) in German, and "Trevling Helg!" (Nice Weekend) in Swedish.

While the phrase TGIF isn’t commonly used in Turkey, people who speak Turkish do say “Yasasin! Yann Tatil!” (Hooray! Tomorrow is a holiday!”) on the day before a holiday. Not surprisingly, the phrase is most commonly used among students who are usually off of school for the holiday.

In Hebrew, people say “Shabbat Shalom” or “שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם” to welcome in the Sabbath, which is from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday.

Of course, in some countries, people also work and/or go to school on Saturdays or Sundays so their weekend (or days off from work and school) happen on different days, making the “TGIF” phrase not as relevant - at least the "Friday" part of it.

But, going back to the language my sons speak most of the day at school, "TGIF" doesn't seem to be used in French (at least in France). But, in France, people do say "Enfin le week-end!" ("the weekend at last!") or "Enfin le vendredi!" ("Finally it's Friday!"), according to Eoila of La Cité des Vents.

No matter where you live or which language(s) you speak, I wish you a happy “TGIF” and a great start to your weekend.

Are you familiar with the phrase ‘TGIF” or “Thank Goodness it’s Friday?” Do you frequently use it to celebrate the approaching start of the weekend? Do you use any other similar phrases? How do you say it in your language(s)? Please share your thoughts and phrases in the comments below.

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- Informal greetings used around the world
The beauty of language: Saying so much in such a few words

TGIF

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