Why do Mennonites say once (how do Mennonites use the phrase ‘once’)?

The Mennonites are the most known group of Anabaptists and are usually known for their stand on nonviolence, nonresistance, and pacifism. If you have seen multiple Mennonites conversing, you probably heard the word ‘once’ being used severally. This might have led you to wonder, “why do Mennonites say once?”

Mennonites use the phrase once majorly to express their politeness when requesting something. The word once can also be used as a substitute for the word ‘please’ or even ‘at once.’ Apart from the word ‘once,’ Mennonites use different phrases in their daily conversations, which may seem unique or weird to non-Mennonites.

So, why do Mennonites use the phrase once? What other phrases do Mennonites use? Read on to learn the answers to these questions.

How do Mennonites use the phrase once?

Most Mennonites use Pennsylvania Dutch in their communications but are also good in English. However, unlike ‘normal’ people, Mennonites will use specific English words as their unique vocabulary or as part of their dialect. In most cases, the meaning of the English phrases they use will have a complete meaning than the actual English word meaning.

Some of the ways Mennonites use the phrase once pronounced as ‘wonst’ are;


Mennonites usually use the phrase once to mean ‘please’ in a sentence. For instance, when a Mennonite requests salt, they will say, “can you pass me the salt once?” once in this sentence is used in the place of ‘please.’ This does not imply that the Mennonites do not use the word please, as it is often used almost everywhere in their sentences.


The phrase once is also used by Mennonites to mean ‘soon’ or ‘in the future.’ For instance, instead of a Mennonite saying, ‘I will be joining you shortly,’ they will say, ‘I will be joining you once.’ This does not mean that the particular person will never join you again, but will do so in a few moments.


In other cases, the phrase once can be used by Mennonites to mean forgiveness. This phrase is generally used as a general statement to emphasize polite intentions. Since the Mennonites people are known to be among the politest groups of people, these phrases are not weird to them at all.

how do Mennonites use the phrase ‘once’?
What other phrases do Mennonites use? See below

What other phrases do Mennonites use?

Apart from the phrase ‘once’ we have discussed above, there are other throw-in words that the Mennonites usually use in their sentences to mean different things or mainly express gratitude and politeness.


‘Yet’ is another throw-in word that Mennonites typically use. Yet usually means ‘also’ or ‘as well.’ Below is how the phrase ‘yet’ can be used by Mennonites in a sentence.

“I would love to order a cup of coffee yet.” Yet this sentence means that the person would also like to order the said coffee.

“You should yet consider joining school soon.” The word yet in this sentence means that the person should consider joining school soon. For English speakers, the way ‘yet’ is used can be seen as inappropriate, as it does not make any sense. However, for Mennonites, this phrase is used perfectly fine and is understood perfectly by their fellow Mennonites.

The phrase Mennonites is also suggested to have no meaning when it is sometimes used in a sentence by Mennonites. This is because this specific group of people loves adding unnecessary throw-in words in their sentences for a reason probably known well to them.

In other cases, the phrase ‘yet’ can replace the word ‘once’ to mean please. An example of a sentence would be, “can you come yet?”. ‘Yet’ is a polite request for the other person to come to you.

A while

This is also another common phrase that is usually used when Mennonites are speaking amongst themselves and is typically used to mean ‘In the meantime.’ Unlike the two terms we have mentioned above, ‘a while’ is not a throw-in word that is often or commonly used by Mennonites, as it has a single meaning.

This phrase is typically used to show one’s politeness when they are asking you to do something else in the meantime, while they are sorting out an issue, or are engaged in other activities. This is usually used to give someone else a go to do their thing and not burden them with waiting on you for too long.

An example of this phrase is, “I will be speaking to the teacher for a few more minutes, so you can start going awhile. This phrase is used to this sentence to inform the other person that they are free to start going in the meantime, as the person will be spending more minutes with the teacher and does not want them waiting on them for too long.


The phrase ‘all’ is usually used as a synonym of the word ‘all gone,’ ‘completely gone, ‘or ‘finished.’ This is the most common phrase that can be understood by a none Mennonite, as it is used as a short form of ‘all gone.’ For instance, when one expresses how she found all her favorite food all gone, they can say, “I found my favorite food all.” This means their favorite food was out of stock, as it was all gone. This is the least complicated phrase used by this group of people.


The Mennonites can be said to have improvised to mean shuffling or re-situating while someone is lying or seated somewhere. Rutsch is a Pennsylvania Dutch word and not an English word. When a person is moving too much and making a lot of noises, they can be said to be ‘Rutsching.’

This phrase can be used in a sentence below; “please stop rutsching as you will wake up the baby.” This means the other person can wake the baby from moving or shaffling too much.


Who are the Mennonites, and what are their beliefs?

Why do Mennonites do that?

The guide to Amish and Mennonite vocabulary

Mennonite man’s vocabulary was reduced to ‘once,’ ‘yet,’ and ‘such.’

1 thought on “Why do Mennonites say once (how do Mennonites use the phrase ‘once’)?”

  1. Most Mennonites do not speak Pennsylvania Dutch, and this has never been the case. In fact, it’s even less common recently as the evangelist arms of Mennonite organizations have dramatically increased the number of Mennonite internationally, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia.

    Pennsylvania Dutch is spoken among the Amish almost exclusively, and it’s declining in its use.


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