I understand that in colloquial American English people retort with "ditto" when they mean "likewise", but I don't know that it is a correct use.

I always thought the real meaning was "as I previously wrote/said before", which would make that "right back at you" use incorrect. At the same time, I thought that "idem" would actually be the word to use in that case, use which the wiktionary seems to back.

Anyone able to shed some light into etymology or correct usage?

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The formal definition of "ditto" doesn't quite mean "likewise," true, but at least in American English it's a widely accepted slang usage. I wouldn't use it in formal language, but I also wouldn't call it incorrect per se.

"Idem," it seems to me, is a much less general term, not to mention a very uncommon one. Wiktionary does list "idem" as a synonym of "ditto" and "likewise," but I think a better synonym of "idem" is "ibid." According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, "idem" is "used in citations to indicate an author or work that has just been mentioned: Marianne Elliott, Partners in Revolution, 1982; idem, Wolfe Tone, 1989." Merriam Webster defines "idem" as "the same as something previously mentioned — used chiefly in bibliographies."

Maybe try "same," as in:

"I am completely addicted to chocolate."


This isn't really any less informal than "ditto," but you might prefer it. I'll add as a caveat that I don't know how regional this usage of "same" is or isn't. (I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area.)


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