Why people answer how do you do?

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"How do you do" is a pleasantry that used to be more common than it is currently. The general progression leading up to this phrase was usually something like: "Hello, Mr. Jones." "Hello, Ms. Smith, how do you do?" or when introducing someone, "Mr. Brain, I'd like you to meet Ms. Smith" "How do you do, Ms. Smith?" Something like this. These are just social niceties, really. The person may not genuinely want to know how the person is doing, but the phrase is repeated in a polite manner nonetheless.
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