Over at Wordorigins.org, donkeyhotay asked about “do the needful,” saying “My understanding is that this is an archaic phrase and that South Asians use it because of the time period that English was introduced into their culture.” Dave Wilton said that was correct, adding: “Indian or South Asian English is a perfectly legitimate dialect of English. Do the needful is not archaic or obsolescent in Indian English, although it is in North American and (I think) British English.” Which made me curious: is it indeed archaic or obsolescent in British English? Do any of my UK readers use it or hear it used? (Obviously speakers of other forms of English are welcome to chime in as well.)
If you’re curious about the OED citations, I posted them in my comment at that link; they start with 1681 (“My last to you was by Mr. Clayton in which I writt you the needfull”) and end with 1992 (“I went over to the drinks cabinet to do the needful”).