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I've suspected before that "Cheers" as an email sign-off is a bit of an English (or possibly Commonwealth) thing, but being English it's natural to me and I use it as the mood takes me to end an email.

When I email an American, what sort of impression does it give? Are there any other English speaking cultures out there where it's a bit unfamiliar?

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It just means thanks in the English sense. Does that come across to people from elsewhere? – Orbling Jan 31 '11 at 20:14
@Orbling - Thanks for clearing that up. As an American, I had no idea what the ubiquitous use of "cheers" by British English speakers was supposed to mean. Now it makes sense. – ssakl Jan 31 '11 at 20:28
It's also fairly common in Australia. – user3444 Jan 31 '11 at 20:48
The question is quiet different, as it asks if American people would understand the use of cheers as salutation in an email. – kiamlaluno Jan 31 '11 at 20:49
up vote 15 down vote accepted

To me, as an American, it doesn't really get interpreted other than to flag to me that the writer is speaking British English. I have no idea when it is or is not proper to use "cheers" in British English, so it sort of gets ignored as to whether this is a formal or informal way of signing off.

Internationally, it's probably best to stick to a more formal "Thank you" or "I look forward to your reply" if the communication is with someone with whom you do not have a pre-established relationship. This is more important when the recipient is not a native speaker of English and may be confused.

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Odd, I've seen it used so much (and use it myself) as an informal end to an email that I no longer see it as particularly British. To me it's perfectly understandable as it is used in a toast: "cheers!" clink. Mind you, I'm Canadian. Maybe it's even more British to american sensibilities. – ghoppe Jan 31 '11 at 20:31
Keep in mind that in America, 'Cheers!' is often said as an informal toast just before tipping back an alcoholic beverage. – oosterwal Jan 31 '11 at 22:24
@ghoppe the association with a toast is not relevant when ending an email. It simply means "thanks". – slim Feb 3 '12 at 14:10
I assure you, to most English speaker's from the US who have not spent a lot of time in the UK or with British English speakers, it very succinctly distinguishes the person using it as a user of British English. – Spencer Williams Jan 20 at 22:18

As an American English native speaker, I interpret it as "Thanks/Have a great day from someone from England (or possibly Australia)". Not that they were intending the "from England" part - that is just my interpretation.

Edit: I do find myself using it sometimes lately :) Also 'no worries', but I have some Australian friends, so I probably picked it up from them.

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As reported from the NOAD (New Oxford American Dictionary) the definition of cheers is the following:

cheers /tʃɪ(ə)rz/
exclamation informal
expressing good wishes, in particular
• good wishes before drinking: “Cheers,” she said, raising her glass.
• [British] good wishes on parting or ending a conversation: Cheers, Jack, see you later.
• [chiefly British] gratitude or acknowledgment for something: Billy tossed him the key. “Cheers, pal.”

Cheers is therefore used to express good wishes in both American English and British English; it's probably understood to have that meaning in a specific context (e.g., before drinking).
I would use good wishes.

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All true, and I can look it up in a dictionary too, but I know what it means. I wanted to know how it made people feel in certain contexts, and how wide its usage is outside the UK. – ijw Feb 1 '11 at 12:55
I'm sorry, but really, no English-speaker in the US, the UK, Canada, India, South Africa, or anywhere else in the English-speaking world would say good wishes before a toast or as a parting greeting :) Cheers, mate! – Jimi Oke Feb 12 '11 at 0:48
Imagine an American, familiar with the first meaning cited, but not with the other two (British) meanings. If he receives an email with "Cheers" at the end, he may imagine that the British guy sending it was imbibing an alcoholic beverage while writing... and that may not be the impression this British guy wants to convey. – GEdgar Oct 1 '11 at 13:40
I have exactly one friend who ends every e-mail with "Cheers". He isn't British, but he likes to drink, so I always imagine him raising a glass with every e-mail. – Rae Oct 1 '11 at 15:04
Being a bit of an Anglophile, I love the Cheers closing, and take it in the good wishes on parting or ending a conversation sense, unless the Thanks sense seems primarily or additionally intended. When my sister (a native American English speaker, like me) uses it, often, as an email sign-off, I know that she means it similarly (minus the Thanks sense) by the context and sibling familiarity, as well as due to the fact that she often closes a handwritten card or note with Cheers illustrated with a doodle of two clinking martini/champagne glasses. – sarah Jan 1 '12 at 12:57

I am an American English native speaker, but I've been exposed to the British usage so much that I've ended a couple of emails with it myself. It always seemed like a fairly reasonable signoff.

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protected by RegDwigнt Feb 3 '12 at 19:39

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