Every time we say goodbye …

solongfarewell

Which song contains these lyrics? “So long, fare thee well, Pip! Pip! Cheerio!”

There are many ways to say goodbye, however sweet or sorrowful, profound or fleeting the parting might be. Here’s where some of them come from.

Goodbye: from 1590s: a contraction of “God be with you”

So long: dates to about 1860, of unknown origin. Probably from the German phrase “adieu so lange”, meaning “farewell whilst (we’re apart)”. Another theory is that it’s a corruption of “salaam” picked up by British sailors serving in Indonesia. I think it’s said more in America than in Great Britain (although you might hear it more in Ireland or Scotland?)

Farewell (poetic/dated): late 14th century, from Middle English “faren wel”, meaning literally “fare well”

Fare thee well (archaic)

Godspeed (archaic): from Middle English phrase “God spede”, with spede being the subjunctive of speden, “to prosper”: hence “may God cause you to succeed”. Usually a farewell to someone embarking on a (possibly perilous) journey.

Bye / bye-bye (informal): shortened version of goodbye

See you later (alligator) (lighthearted informal): the “alligator” addition is from an iconic rock ‘n’ roll song from the 1950s

See you: (informal): a shortening of “see you later”

Later, and more recently lates (slang): shortening of “see you later”

Peace (modern slang): shortenening of peace out; used mainly for signing off phone calls or e-mails

Cheerio (British upbeat informal): from 1910, from the word cheer

Cheers: (British informal, meaning “thank you”, “good luck”, or “goodbye”; the meaning of a drinking toast goes back to 1919, also from the word cheer, plural)

Pip-pip (British informal, dated): first used in 1907, probably because it sounds like the toot of a car horn

Toodle-oo, or tootle-oo (British informal, archaic); also Irish variant tooraloo: toodle is a variant of toddle, both meaning ‘ to walk in a leisurely manner’. Toddle-off is still used in British English, meaning wandering or tootling off.

Ta-ta / ta-ra (British informal: dated or regional): OED lists ta-ta as “a nursery version of ‘goodbye’ used playfully by adults”, first cited in 1837. Ta-ra is still used in Liverpool and Merseyside (UK), often followed by “then”, “well”, or “now”

Tatty bye: (British informal, dated): phrase made popular by comedian Ken Dodd in the 1970s

Sayonara: Japanese originally, but carries a sense of finality about it, ie. goodbye, never to see you again

And some foreign goodbyes that are used commonly in the English language:

Au revoir (French)

Adieu (French)

Auf Wiedersehen (German)

Adios (Spanish)

Arrivederci (Italian)

Ciao (Italian informal)

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Every time we say goodbye …

    1. Louise Post author

      Ah – that picture was a deliberate red herring! The song is actually “Be Back Soon” from the musical movie “Oliver!” But it’s always a good time to watch The Sound of Music again… ; )

      Reply

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