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Okay, so I've become aware of the phrase "you'll have had your tea", which is something of a cliché of a Scottish dialect. I'm not actually sure if it's currently in common usage or not.

But I have become interested in what it means. Literally it seems to be "there'll be a point in the future when you've already eaten", but it might be "I assume you've already eaten now".

What do Scottish people mean when they say this?

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"you'll have had your tea"

Refers to an idiom where a visitor who has dropped in at "tea" (a colloquial term for an evening meal) is informed that the host does not intend to feed them.

Reference 1

Reference 2

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    In Edinburgh, where I originate from, we used to say it to a visitor with the meaning of 'we assume you have already eaten, so we don't need to feed you'. A sort of presumption of a past fact, not a future one. You could paraphrase it as "You have had your tea, haven't you"? I vaguely recall that it wasn't restricted to just "tea", though, but any kind of meal or refreshment. – BillJ Feb 25 '16 at 8:58
  • As a Glaswegian in exile in the Far East (Edinburgh), I've always known it as a (probably unfair) caricature of the "inhospitable" Edinburghers in contrast to the welcoming "you'll be wanting yer tea" in Glasgow. – neil Sep 3 '17 at 17:00
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This was a catchphrase from a long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy programme "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

It was intended to make fun of the stereotypical scottish miserly attitude, that a visitor would not be offered tea to save the money.

A spin off comedy series, called "You'll Have Had Your Tea" was made, with Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden as the main characters Hamish & Dougal.

The phrase isn't necessarily in common use but, like all catchphrases, is often quoted. The use of any catchphrase in conversation varies with the popularity of its source characters.

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  • I was aware of this catch phrase :) Although this question is about real-world usage and it's meaning in context. – AJFaraday Feb 25 '16 at 9:29
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You will have had your tea, meaning that at some point in the future, you will be in the position of having had your tea, is a normal use of the future-perfect tense.

However where it is said as a statement of a presumption about something that has already happened, it is an idiomatic use of the future which appears in other forms too. You will know that there is to be a Referendum on 23rd June won't you?

And I accept entirely what @thokiro says.

It is not unique to Scotland, though I am interested to hear that it seems widely used there.

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Well one would think it's quite obvious its intended usage.

"You'll have had your tea then" is a roundabout way of stating this person being spoken to is no longer welcome.

Perhaps I'm being daft at other responses that allude to the same, but there it is nonetheless.

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    Can you explain why it means this, for us poor bedraggled Americans who are peripherally aware, at best, that "having tea" might involve chewing? – Dan Bron Jun 27 '17 at 2:11
  • I missed a bit of context in the question. The phrase is typically used as a greeting as in "Hamish!". "Dougal! You'll have had your tea?" – AJFaraday Jun 27 '17 at 10:24

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