Is 恐れ入ります the correct form of "thank you" when used during a business transaction (for example, a sales person would say this when someone makes a purchase at his/her store)? In the context of an up-scale and expensive shop, the sales person trying to be very gracious to the customer.

Is there another form of "thank you" that would be appropriate in this context, or is this the most appropriate?

Is this the way it would be written out, for example, on a note of sales or a receipt, would 恐れ入ります be written out at the end of the bill of sale? Is there kanji for thank you in this written out sales situation?


No. 恐れ入ります isn’t only a form of thanking or gratitude. It’s rather an expression of apology or humbleness.

For instance, when you are blocking a passenger on a path in a shop or train, the shopkeeper or conductor would say to you 恐れ入りますが通路をお開け下さい – Sorry, please step aside and let the passenger (shopper) pass. When you put a wrong code number in the card machine, the card will be rejected, and instead you’ll hear the message 恐れ入りますが、正しい暗証番号をご入力下さい- Sorry, please try again by inputting the correct code number.

In other instances, when you lose Go or Shogi game to your rival (or play mate), you will bow to the counterpart, and say 恐れ入りました, meaning I humbly admit your victory. When you are praised by somebody, say your teacher, or boss for your talent or skill, you might respond 恐れ入ります to express your humbleness.

As such 恐れ入ります can be used in various occasions. You can say 大変貴重な品を頂戴し、恐れ入ります, meaning “I appreciate very much for your giving such a precious item,” when you receive a very valuable gift from someone in higher status. But this is pretty old-fashioned expression. I would recommend you to say 大変貴重な品を頂戴し、誠に有難うございます。

To your last question, Can the phrase 恐れ入ります be shown in print on business records like a receipt? Never. 恐れ入ります is a verbal form, though it's a polite expression.

  • 2
    Players at serious games will never say 恐れいりました when they resign.
    – user4092
    Dec 28 '15 at 9:23
  • 1
    @user 4092. I didn't say Jack Nicklous, Rafael Nadal, or Maria Sharapova, Kei Nishigori said "Osoreirimasita" after their matches. However, it's very, very , very, very, very common collocual Japanese phrase to be used when you lose the game to your playmate. I heard it hundreds of hundreds times when I played Shogi and mahjan in my life. Dec 29 '15 at 1:07

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