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To be "fashionably late" is to have arrived tardily to a party or other social function, especially when such tardiness is intended by the latecomer or expected by the host, and is actually considered preferable to timeliness.

There is wide disagreement in the populace as to just how late "fashionably late" is, with estimates ranging from ten minutes to several hours, depending on the start time of the function, and the social importance or relevance of the tardy guest. Of course, the allowance for any fashionable lateness is only applicable in the cultures that tolerate such a practice in the first place; in many modern cultures, (and I'm told Japan is a good example), "fashionable lateness" is oxymoronic. Even in America, where lateness can indeed be de rigueur -- an indication that one is not so eager to be at your function as to show up on time -- it is generally inadvisable to attempt to write-off tardiness under the "fashionably late" rubric in the setting of:

  • A date with a courted man or woman (though a few minutes may be OK or even appreciated in some instances; use your best judgment)
  • School or Work
  • Appearances before a grand jury
  • Weddings, (especially your own)
  • Funerals, (especially your own)
  • Business meetings
or any other interactive situation in which your presence is required for things to go smoothly. And for that matter, it is particularly rude for one to materialize late to a function where one is the guest of honor, or the star -- it comes off as arrogant. (Would someone please inform Madonna of this fact?)

Now, this is not to suggest that arriving early is any more advisable. In fact, being very early is downright tacky, dorky. Arriving three hours late or thirty minutes early to a social function -- these are, in my opinion, equally rude. Especially in light of the preciousness of those last few minutes one has to make himself presentable as an appointed time approaches.

It is an ideal practice to arrive at precisely the appointed time for all social and business events, with the exception of large parties, or when no time has been specified by the host. I say this because even though timeliness can suggest eagerness (or "over-eagerness"), it is more likely to impart respect. It is a bit implausible for a host to find fault with his guests for merely obliging his request to arrive at a certain time.


This has been a philanthropic nodeshell rescue, a fact I point out only because some people find it interesting, and it hurts nobody for me to simply say so!

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