I live in Australia, so saying and writing "no worries" became second nature to me*. However, just the other day I read on this page that some people get annoyed by it, their argument going along these lines:

I believe it insinuates that I am a worrier when I am not [...] [It's] often used passive aggressively, as in: ‘I’m going to be a little late.’ ‘No worries!’ Wait, should I have been worried?

I got confused by that argument because I see "no worries" the same way I see "no problem", which is:

  1. There is no worry (problem) involved in this situation. / This is a worry-free situation.

Thus, I understand "worries" like a noun, not implying a verb or an action. However, the aforementioned argument see it as:

  1. Don't you worry.

According to this answer and the wikipedia page the meaning #2 is in fact common, but the same answerer says just after that that "no worries" is equivalent to "no problem"... However, we cannot understand "no problem" as "don't you problem", because that verb simply doesn't exist. That said, if "no worries" and "no problem" are equivalent, is the meaning #2 accurate?

* I'm not a native English speaker

  • 2
    No worries, mate! Even if you go to the States your Aussie accent should stop people losing it with you if you say "no worries". Poms like me won't even notice, we've been educated by Neighbours and Home and Away. Honestly I can't see the difficulty because I've always thought that it was the speaker who had no worries, not that the speaker was telling the listener not to worry.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 0:16
  • @BoldBen That's exactly my point! For me, if the verb is implied, it talks about the speaker (as in "I'm not worried"), not the listener, but even the Wikipedia page says it can mean "don't you worry about that"... Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 0:18
  • 1
    There is a big difference between worrying about a specific thing and being "a worrier" in general. In my opinion people bothered by the "don't worry about it" interpretation are being overly sensitive, especially considering that (in your example) they were worried in the sense of being concerned enough about being late to mention it - it's unclear what other response they would consider acceptable that wouldn't have any potential negative interpretation.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 0:35
  • I wonder if the Australian 'no worries' is received by some hearers similarly to 'no problem' in the UK, i.e. when said in response to being thanked. I often want to say 'I know there isn't a bloody problem; why can't you just say "you're welcome"?'. Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 6:03
  • The problem (worry?) with Wikipedia is that it's entries can be written by anyone. I suspect that the entry you're talking about was written by and moderated by Americans many of whom, from the discussion you point to, seem to be over-sensitive to any suggestion that they might be compulsive worriers. Methinks they complain too much, If I lived in the States I think I'd be a compulsive worrier too!
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 21, 2020 at 7:05


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