I have a lot of Irish coworkers that often greet me by saying "What's the story?"

What's a good way to answer to this greeting?

Also, does this ever get used in the UK, US or Australia?

  • The top o' the mornin' to you. – WS2 Feb 10 '16 at 19:19
  • "No story. What's the story with you?" Unless, of course, you have something remarkable you want to share with your coworker. – Steven Littman Feb 10 '16 at 19:28
  • "Not much." "Same grind, different day." "Born, work, die." "Doing fine, personally." et cetera and so forth. – The Nate Feb 10 '16 at 21:19
  • It is just rhetorical question so just say "All quiet. Any crack with you?" and normally they will say reply to say none. And sometime later on you discuss the real stories/crack :-) Replace 'crack' by 'news' if you are worried about sounding too Irish :-) – k1eran Feb 11 '16 at 0:17
  • I forgot to mention, but the answer is yes: We do have the greeting in the U.S., along with some variations. "What's your story?" & "What's up?" & "What's news?" are fairly common and mean practically the same things. – The Nate Feb 12 '16 at 15:18

The Phrase Finder traces the origin of the different forms of colloquial greetings from which "what's the story" probably derives:

  • In the mid-20th century, there was something of a fashion in the US for jocular greetings, in the same vein as the nonsense 'enthusiasm' phrases like the bee's knees, the cat's pyjamas etc.

  • What's your story, morning glory?

  • What's your tale, nightingale?
  • What's on the agenda, Brenda? etc, etc.

  • These 'what' greetings, in common with 'how do you do?', have an interrogative form. In phrasing a greeting as a question the person being addressed is invited to began a conversation. In the USA, the 'question' is rheotorical - they don't really expect you to tell them what is ticking etc. The British have tended to stick to direct 'how do you do?', 'nice weather isn't it?' type greetings, which invite a literal reply.

  • Over time, even in Britain, the question mark has become less appropriate as 'how do you do' has drifted into being a simple shorthand for 'hello'. In the 1970s I worked for a time with an American record producer from Queens, New York. His daily 'what's new?' greeting always had me searching for a list of new things, to reply to what I took to be a question - which wasn't what he intended at all, of course.
  • If you think that British workers greet their colleagues each day with *How do you do, nice weather isn't it', it must be a fearful long time since you were in the UK. It is nonetheless true that the British are inclined to make remarks about the weather as a form of greeting - for the obvious reason that the country has a maritime climate and the weather can be more changeable and less predictable than in continental regions, like the USA. And what the weather is doing is quite important as a lot hinges on it, what you wear, whether it is worth venturing outside or not etc. – WS2 Feb 11 '16 at 0:25
  • That, and our British cousins are far more civil in their greetings, versus the N Am salutation, "Wh'up Dawg?”. ;-) – Rob_Ster Feb 11 '16 at 1:44

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