Plenty of characters say, “Thank you.”  Bilbo even says, “Thag  you bery buch.”  Hyphenated like this refers to the polite phrase – “a thank-you”, as in “an apology” or “a greeting”.

  • 02.001 (“but with never a thank-you” he thought);

It’s only given hyphens in this use – referring to the phrase, not the phrase itself – in the OED.

“ˈthank you, phr. and n.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, June 2017, Accessed 21 September 2017.

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