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I just got a receipt which said "Received with thanks the sum of ..." Thanks stands for gratitude, so this looks fine to me as far as grammar is concerned.

But is this old-fashioned and/or stilted? Are there more formal ways of expressing this idea?

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It's the normal formula. Just be thankful that someone is thanking you. –  Barrie England Jun 7 '12 at 11:01
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More formal? Or more common? (More formal ways of saying this wouldn't necessarily sound less stilted...) –  J.R. Jun 7 '12 at 11:03
    
But it's use seems to be decreasing. –  user20934 Jun 7 '12 at 11:03
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I am not sure searching a corpus of books reflects what is written on receipts. –  Roaring Fish Jun 7 '12 at 11:13
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Dictionary.com defines stilted as "stiffly dignified or formal, as speech or literary style; pompous." Named synonyms include terms like artificial, affected and forced, which imply something unnatural or insincere. Official and business writing tends to be formalized in an attempt to make it sound sincere, even though the result may be just the opposite.

In this case I'd say the phrase received with thanks in written form deserves the benefit of the doubt and isn't stilted, especially if it is routinely used in the course of business.

On the other hand, if someone said to me "I received with thanks the sum of 10 dollars from that fellow over there," that would strike me as very stilted (or I would think I was in the middle of a Dickens story).

In any event the expression is definitely formal enough on its own.

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My written receipts all take the form 'Received with thanks [signature][date]' –  Barry Brown Jul 1 '12 at 22:44
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It is not old-fashioned or stilted. Writing "received with gratitude" would be more old fashioned and stilted.

More formal... leave off the thanks! See an example here: http://www.agriscience.msu.edu/specialprojects/Chapter%20Officer%20Development-Michelle%20Guthrie/TREASURER/9%20WRITING%20RECEIPTS.pdf

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