1. English idiom. A qualifying form of the use of Yours as a valediction for letters (i.e. Yours truly, Lord Percy Sedgewick Greeves Angleforth of Stow-upon-Salisbury Steak), and in that role it was and can still be used interchangeably with Yours Faithfully, for those recipients who need an air of mystery in their lives; Yours Sincerely, resulting in modern day’s go-to lame sign off, Sincerely; or, for those who really want to bring the point home, Yours Very Truly.
Yours has been used in epistles since at least the 15th century, with variations popping up as early as 1516. In Allen’s Briefe History of Gloriovs Martyrdom (1582), Luke Kirbie signed a letter with the fairly ambitious yet decidedly hopeful “Yours to death and after death.” Robert Burns gave it the poets’ touch in a 1788 letter concluded “Believe me to be ever My dear sir, your most truly Rob Burns.”
Somewhere in the 19th century it began being used in place of me, myself or I, allowing Dickens to write in an 1833 letter, “Pray give my love to Letitia; ‘accept the same from yours truly’ as schoolboys say.” When in doubt on who’s corrupted the English language, blame the schoolboys.
In short, feel free to experiment. Make it your own.
Don’t, as The AOE once did — repeatedly — confuse Yours Truly for not you, as in the linguistic barge a much younger version of me once ran aground: “Guess who it was? Yours truly, Eric.” After two or three exchanges like this during a family conversation in the kitchen, my sister leaned over from her seat at the island as I was passing to whisper to me what Yours Truly really meant.
As in, welcome to my new compendium. Thank you for reading. Yours truly will be, ever and for always, in your debt.