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I've read that はじめました or 〜まして is a shortened form of an expression originally meaning “I meet you for the first time”. If that's true, then what is the full expression?

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According to the dictionary it is short for はじめてお目にかかります。

https://dictionary.goo.ne.jp/jn/176053/meaning/m0u/はじめまして/

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    That's the definition. It doesn't say that it's short for that. – Leebo Sep 15 '18 at 18:56
  • Well, that is what it means and that is what it's short for. This answer is correct – a20 Sep 15 '18 at 19:36
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    Maybe I'm thinking of "short for" differently than you and the answerer. You can't fit はじめまして into はじめて目にかかります. But if that's all that the questioned wanted to know, then okay. My impression was they wanted to know if there was a longer phrase that starts with はじめまして – Leebo Sep 16 '18 at 1:19
  • No, there is no longer phrase that starts exactly "はじめまして", since the conjugated part rather comes from the end of the full phrase, i.e. "かかります". Note that this かかります can very well be conjugated according to the normal rules in accordance with the context in which one uses it. – a20 Sep 16 '18 at 12:33
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    ^ 「初めましてお目にかかります」が短くなったんじゃないの – Chocolate Sep 16 '18 at 14:14

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