At Earliest Convenience: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 14, 2023

The idiom "at earliest convenience" means to do something as soon as possible or at the earliest possible time. When you ask someone to do something at their earliest convenience, you are politely requesting them to complete a task or respond promptly.

In short:

"At earliest convenience" means to do something as soon as possible, without any unnecessary delays.

What Does "At Earliest Convenience" Mean?

People use the idiom "at earliest convenience" when they want someone to complete a task or respond to a request as soon as possible, without delay. This phrase is more common in formal contexts, such as emails and letters, and is synonymous with asking someone to do something promptly or without unnecessary delays.

  • Asking for a quick response or action
  • Requesting completion of a task without delay
  • Used primarily in formal settings

Depending on the context and the desired meaning, the idiom can also be used in various ways, such as "at your earliest convenience" or "at his/her earliest convenience."

Where Does "At Earliest Convenience" Come From?

The origin of the phrase "at earliest convenience" can be traced back to the combination of the words "earliest" and "convenience." The word "earliest" is derived from the Old English word "«£rest," meaning soonest, first, or earliest. On the other hand, "convenience" comes from the Latin word "convenientia," meaning "agreement, harmony, or meeting together." It is formed by combining 'con-' meaning "together," and 'venire,' meaning "to come."

The phrase "at earliest convenience" has been in use since the 18th century and means "at the soonest possible time, without unnecessary delay."

Historical Example

"Please, at earliest convenience send me the name of the vessel..."

- The Lower Canada Jurist, 1860

10 Examples of "At Earliest Convenience" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the phrase used in various contexts:

  • Please reply to this email at your earliest convenience.
  • I will call you back at my earliest convenience.
  • Kindly send the required documents at your earliest convenience.
  • Could you please read over the document and let me know if you get the gist of it at your earliest convenience?
  • If you want to get ahead of the game, take this pro tip and complete the task at your earliest convenience.
  • He will return the borrowed book at his earliest convenience.
  • Please let me know if you can send me the document at your earliest convenience. Much appreciated!
  • Let's keep in touch and schedule a call at your earliest convenience.
  • I will complete the assigned task at my earliest convenience.
  • Please process the refund at your earliest convenience.

Examples of "At Earliest Convenience" in Pop Culture

The phrase has been featured in various forms of pop culture, including movies, literature, and music.

Some notable examples are:

  • Edmund Brundish, a character from the 2017 movie "The Bookshop," says, "...please, at your earliest convenience, send more books by Ray Bradbury."
  • "Charlie, would you arrange for my middle daughter to come to see me at her earliest possible convenience?" This is a line from President Josiah Bartlet in the 2001 TV series "The West Wing."

Other/Different Ways to Say "At Earliest Convenience"

There are several other ways to express the meaning of 'at earliest convenience ' in English.

Some of these alternatives include:

  • As soon as possible
  • At the earliest opportunity
  • Without delay
  • As soon as you can
  • At the soonest possible time
  • As promptly as possible
  • At the first chance
  • As quickly as you can
  • When you have a moment

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "At Earliest Convenience":

  • What does "at earliest convenience" mean?

"At earliest convenience" means to do something as soon as possible, without any unnecessary delays.

  • What is the origin of the phrase "at earliest convenience"?

The phrase "at earliest convenience" originated from the combination of the words 'earliest' and 'convenience.' It has been in use since the 18th century and means "at the soonest possible time, without unnecessary delay."

  • How can I use "at earliest convenience" in a sentence?

You can use "at earliest convenience" in a sentence to express that something should be done as soon as possible, such as, "Long time no talk! Let's catch up at your earliest convenience."

  • Is "at earliest convenience" used in formal or informal settings?

"At earliest convenience" is primarily used in formal settings, such as in business emails or formal letters.

  • What can I say instead of "at earliest convenience"?

Some alternatives to "at earliest convenience" include as soon as possible, at the earliest opportunity, without delay, as soon as you can, at the soonest possible time, and as promptly as possible.

  • Is there a scenario where "at earliest convenience" would be inappropriate?

Using "at earliest convenience" would be inappropriate in situations where immediacy or urgency is implied or explicitly requested. For example, if someone asks you to respond 'as soon as possible,' it would be misleading to reply that you will do so 'at your earliest convenience,' since that does not convey the same degree of expediency.

  • Is "at earliest convenience" a polite way to ask someone to do something?

Yes, "at earliest convenience" is a polite way to ask someone to do something or respond to a request as soon as possible, without delay.

  • Can I use "at earliest convenience" in a text message or informal conversation?

While "at earliest convenience" is primarily used in formal settings, it can also be used in text messages or informal conversations if you want to convey politeness or a sense of urgency.

  • Does "at earliest convenience" imply a sense of urgency?

Yes, "at earliest convenience" implies a sense of urgency, as it requests someone to complete a task or respond to a request as soon as possible, without any unnecessary delays.

  • Is it appropriate to use "at earliest convenience" in a job application?

Yes, it is appropriate to use "at earliest convenience" in a job application when you are requesting a response or asking the recipient to review your application materials. This phrase conveys politeness and professionalism while also emphasizing the importance of a timely response.

Final Thoughts About "At Earliest Convenience"

In summary, the idiom "at earliest convenience" is used to politely request that someone complete a task or respond to a request as soon as possible without any unnecessary delays. This phrase is more common in formal contexts, such as emails and letters, and conveys a sense of urgency and professionalism.

Key aspects of the idiom "at earliest convenience":

  • This means to complete a task or respond promptly, without delay
  • Primarily used in formal settings, such as business emails or letters
  • Conveys politeness and urgency

By understanding the meaning and usage of this idiom, you can communicate your expectations clearly and effectively in various formal situations.

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