I recently was having a conversation with an acquaintance in Russian, and she used the phrase "welcome to the club" as it would literally translate into Russian. Confused, I asked, "This is surely an Americanism", as the phrase was precisely the same, translated 100% literally word for word.

She was adamant that the phrase was not only completely normal in Russian, but that it wasn't even taken from the English language!

What research I've performed in Google has yielded nothing definitive beyond confirming the existence of the phrase (I likewise searched for information in Russian, coming to a similar dead end).

Is the origin of this phrase known? Can we at least isolate it to a specific country?

Thank you!

  • 1
    "Welcome to the club" seems to be an American variation on the older, possibly British, phrase. The expression is so common and so stupid, though, that no one seems to have bothered to pinpoint its exact origin over the years or centuries.
    – Ricky
    Oct 3, 2018 at 18:41
  • 2
    It was invented by a little old lady from Leningrad.¹
    – MetaEd
    Oct 3, 2018 at 19:35
  • I'm not sure what sense of 'welcome to the club' you're asking about. The answers assume you didn't mean the literal sense; even if that's the case, OED (for example) attests two similar figurative senses: (1) "colloq. (often humorous). join the club: ... ‘me too’, ‘you're not the only one’" (1973) and (2) "fig. A number of people having something in common, sharing an experience, etc." (1944).
    – JEL
    Oct 23, 2018 at 4:05
  • @JEL I'm referring to the figurative sense
    – Kanga_Roo
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:05

3 Answers 3


Not a definitive answer, but the Online Etymology Dictionary says:

Join the club "become one of a number of people having a common experience" is by 1944.

It doesn't say where it was used in 1944.


You have the expression “Welcome to the club and Join the club which have a “negative” connotation

The rest of us are in the same situation.

  • So you’re short of cash? Welcome to the club. You’re just like us. Join the club; we’ve got jackets.

(McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs)


According to the OED, "join the club" in this sense was first used at least as far back as 1944:

Join the Cotton Club! [i.e. wear cotton dresses]

The OED also mentions another earlier expression that also uses "club" metaphorically. "In the pudding club" means pregnant, and dates back to at least 1890:

Pudding club (popular), a woman in the family way is said to be in the pudding club.
Dictionary of slang, jargon and cant

The OED page for "club", however, has not been updated yet so I don't doubt that there may be earlier examples. I don't see any evidence for or against a Russian origin.

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