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Tipping Etiquette- Evolution and Contemporary Norms of Tipping

In contemporary times tipping has become more of an etiquette norm. Most of us have always taken the tipping practice as an established norm and we tend to follow it without fail because we all know that a failure to give an expected amount of tip is considered to be a faux pas in some cultures. On the other hand in some other cultures or situations, giving a tip is not expected and offering one would be considered at best odd and at worst demeaning.

What exactly is Tipping? 

Tipping is a voluntary extra payment made to certain service sector workers in addition to the advertised price of the transaction. The tipping amount definitely differs depending on the culture of the place and the kind of industry you are dealing with.

It is a known fact that, tipping as a custom was not established in a day. Though, the tipping practice became popular in the 19th century, in America, its presence can be traced back to early 18th century, in Europe. Nobody can exactly tell how the practice evolved but, some people say that the word TIP originated in a London, coffeehouse on Fleet Street. 

On the table was a bowl with the words “To Insure Promptitude” printed around it. Taking the first letter of each word the phrase was shortened to “TIP”. Others hold the belief that the word TIP comes from the Dutch tippen, meaning “to tap” and referring to the sound of a coin being tapped against a glass to catch a waiter’s attention. 

This practice thus originated in England and then gradually made a place for itself as a recognized practice in the other parts of the world also.

Evolution of Tipping

Tipping is now a very common practice in America, but it is a very strange fact that there was no tipping in America prior to 1840. This practice was brought into the country by the newly rich Americans of that particular period, to prove they had been abroad and knew the rules.
With more and more Americans going abroad and bringing the new culture home, the tipping culture became prominent in every part of the country.  An increasing popularity of this new practice caused a lot of resentment in the various sections of the American society. 

According to an article that appeared in The New York Times in 1897, there was a movement brewing against tipping in America. The anti-tipping group believed that tipping was the “vilest of imported vices” because it created an aristocratic class in a country that fought hard to eliminate a class-driven society. In 1915 six state legislators from Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Carolina attempted and failed to pass an anti-tipping bill that would make leaving gratuities unlawful.


Gradually, this practice became popular in other parts of the world as well and now any kind of service that is a part of the service sector industry accepts ‘Tipping’ as an established etiquette norm. 

This practice is now extremely popular but some countries like Japan, do not accept Tipping as a custom and any kind of tipping in Japan might make the service provider feel offended. 

Tipping Etiquette

Tipping is now a part of etiquette norms and not paying an expected amount of TIP after using a certain service is considered a serious faux pas in some cultures. 

On the other hand, there are no well-defined standards for tipping and the amount varies depending on the type of service industry. Some established norms for tipping for various sections of the service industry are given below:      

Pizza deliverer: 15% of the bill amount

Newspaper deliverer: Tip is optional

Hairstylist (if not the owner): 15%- 20%

Hairstylist (if the owner): Tip is not required

Make-up artist, aesthetician, etc.: 15%- 20%     

Cab Driver: 15- 20%, depending on the size of the city.     

Restaurant server: 15%- 20% of the total bill amount    

Concierge who gets you tickets: Tip is optional

Room service: 15% of the bill amount

Points to be considered before ‘Tipping’

1. While dining out always tip according to the type of restaurant you are visiting. This is very important because the tipping amount for the service provided by the high- end restaurants in any city is much higher than the tipping amount for the average ones.

2. Do not forget to go through the tipping etiquette norms for other cultures before tipping a service provider in a new country. This is important because in some countries like Japan tipping is considered to be demeaning.

Tipping appropriately portrays your image as a ‘cultured individual’ in the eyes of the people around you and it also gives you an opportunity to reward those people who serve you with a smile.

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2 Comments

  1. The good helpful info you provide in your article thanks for sharing your knowledge

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