How god be with you become ‘goodbye’

‘Goodbye,’ the universal send-off that slips off our tongues effortlessly, carries a history that’s as rich as a chocolate cake!

Ever wonder why we say ‘good morning, good night’ or ‘good day? It’s all about wishing someone well during a specific time. So, wouldn’t “goodbye” be saying I hope you have a good bye? It’s a tempting thought but it’s incorrect.

Back in the 14th Century, English-speaking people were fond of bidding farewell with a hearty “God be with you” when parting ways. Over time, linguistic laziness, or perhaps convenience, condensed these well-intentioned blessings into the much shorter ‘godbwye’ by the mid-16th Century.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘godbwye’ appeared in print for the first time, noted in a letter by English scholar Gabriel Harvey in 1575. His poetic sentiment roughly translates today to “reciprocating your gallon of goodbyes with a half-gallon of howdies.” This evolution of ‘God be with you’ to ‘godbwye was as chaotic as a Shakespearean comedy! From ‘God be wy you’ to ‘good b’w y’ folks spelt it as they fancied. Even the renowned playwright William Shakespeare had his own spin on the word, using multiple variations across three of his plays.

And as for how “God” morph into “good”? It’s believed that this happened because 

people were smitten by the charm of phrases like ‘good day’ and goodnight already making waves since the 13th Century. Come the early 1700s, ‘goodbye’ emerged and gained the public’s favour to become the trendy areligious farewell we are familiar with today. While ‘God be with you’ remains a familiar phrase among the religious circles, ‘goodbye took the lead in everyday conversations.

Although ‘goodbye’ forged an areligious path, the religious link remains evident in many other languages. For example, in French, “adieu,” and in Spanish, “adios,” both directly translate to “to God.”

So the next time you say ‘goodbye to someone remember this word’s labyrinthine evolution through ages, spellings, and meanings, from divine blessings to areligious send-offs.

Picture Credit : Google

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