The Top of the Morning’ expression has a strong association with the Irish people. If a person tells you Top of the morning’, it means best of the morning.
The best answer to “Top of the morning to you” is “And the rest of the day to you.” If the person who greeted you also asked a question, you can answer it directly afterward.
The Meaning of “Top of the Morning”
This person is wishing you the best in your morning. It is like a creative way of telling a person good morning.
Although the term is widely associated with the Irish people, it is not used today as it once was. Therefore, if a person is using the greeting it’s imperative to use it appropriately to avoid it being seen as stereotypical. Inappropriate use of the expression can be interpreted as slightly racist, which isn’t a good thing.
According to a 2019 article by Frontiers in Psychology, whenever you’re communicating with someone, you should be mindful of their feelings.  That’s why a person should be cautious when using the greeting Top of the morning.’
Presently, American tourists who visit Ireland happen to use it often compared to the locals. Another season where the greeting is common is on St. Patrick’s day during the celebration of the Irish culture. It happens to the special salutation for the day. This is enough to show that the usage of the greeting is sparing.
So, whenever a person is using it, it is important to consider the audience to avoid an unfavorable response.
How Do You Respond to the Greeting?
The standard way of responding to the expression is being polite. Apart from being polite, you can respond in a simple way like saying Thank you’ whenever someone greets you.
For example, you may meet your colleague in the morning and he greets you “Top of the morning to you, Mark! I hope you’re doing well.”
You can respond in something like this:
“Thank you. Am doing very well.”
The greeting wishes the best morning to the one receiving it. In response, the person receiving the greeting shows appreciation and gratitude for the best wishes.
Another way of responding to the greeting is by saying:
“And the rest of the day to you”.
This is a more traditional way of responding to the greeting. It means that one is wishing the best to the speaker as well. It is a way of returning a goodwill message to the speaker.
For example, you can meet with your colleague in the morning and greets you, “Top of the morning to you. Would you like a cup of coffee this morning or you’ve already taken some?”
A favorable response would be something like:
“And the rest of the day to you too. Yes, I’ll appreciate a cup of coffee. Thanks.”
This response shows that you’re not only showing gratitude to the speaker, but you’re also wishing the best to him.
For both responses, it is important to be polite to the speaker. If you are courteous in your response, it will help to build a good relationship.
An Irish Audience Responding to Speakers from a Different Country
If you’re Irish and a person from a different country greets you using the expression “Top of the morning to you”, it’s good to consider that he is from a different culture. One may be speaking innocently without any thought or desire of being offensive.
In such a situation, an Irish audience can try to understand what the person meant. So, responding politely can go a long way.
After the response, you can explain to the speaker that the expression is not common with all people and so one should be cautious when using it. The speaker from a different culture will know that using the expression to greet some Irish people may not be a good idea.
An Important Note to Speakers
For persons who use the expression to greet others, it is significant to use it appropriately to avoid receiving the wrong response. As you have already noted, the greeting has a strong association with Irish culture.
It is because of the heavy association with Irish people that the greeting can come out as stereotypical. If it is done inappropriately, it can come out as offensive to a person of Irish descent.
It is advisable not to use the expression when greeting a colleague, boss, or client from Ireland if you don’t have a good relationship with them.
For example, greeting a stranger or a person you’ve met a few times can have negative effects. If they don’t appreciate the usage of the expression, it can backfire on them.
So, if you have to use the expression to greet an Irish, make sure you have a good relationship so that it won’t be interpreted as stereotypical. The prudent thing is to avoid using the expression because a person has links with Ireland.
However, you can use it in a situation or context of socialization. For example, when you’re discussing something about Irish culture, you can make use of the greeting and it won’t sound inappropriate. The fact that the environment is social makes it easier and more accommodating to use the expression without the risk of being offensive.
Thus, if you’re going to use the expression, it’s essential to consider your audience and the context in which you’re speaking. If you’re talking to an Irish or a group of Irish people, you need to know them quite well.
If they are people you know, it’s highly likely that they will respond positively. However, if they don’t know you well, chances are high that the response won’t be positive. They may fail to respond or show their displeasure openly.
For example, if you are a tourist in Ireland, it’s better not to use the greeting when talking to a receptionist because the response may not be what you expected.
However, if you’re using it in the context of celebrating the Irish culture, you’re more likely to get a positive impression. Just use it sparingly and you’ll be good.
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.