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I've heard that goodbye comes from God be with you. Is that true? If so how did it become good? Did goodbye always have the same meaning it has now?

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up vote 23 down vote accepted

The OED also says that this is a contracted form of "God be with you", and explains the God-to-good transition thusly (emphasis mine):

A contraction of the phrase God be with you (or ye); see GOD n. 8. The substitution of good- for God may have been due to association with such formulas of leave-taking as good day, good night, etc.

In a quote from 1659, we still have "God":

But mum for that, his strength will scarce supply His Back to the Balcona, so God b' wy.

And then by 1694, we have transitioned to "good":

He flings up his tail..and so bids us good-b'wy.

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The Merriam-webster confirms what you are writing in your question:

Etymology: alteration of God be with you Date: circa 1580

Note (Common Errors in English Usage):


All of these spellings are legitimate; but if you want to go with the most popular one, it’s “goodbye.”
This spelling has the advantage of recalling the word’s origins in phrases like “God be with ye.”

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"Am I right" appears to be going down a similar path. – RegDwigнt Aug 20 '10 at 16:41
@RegDwight: What has "Am I right?" been modified to nowadays? – Mitch Apr 20 '11 at 14:40
@Mitch: amirite. – RegDwigнt Apr 20 '11 at 14:51

goodbye, good bye, good-by, 1590s, from godbwye (1570s), itself a contraction of God be with ye (late 14c.), influenced by good day, good evening, etc.

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This doesn't add anything to the discussion. All this is better said in the accepted answer. – Matt E. Эллен May 17 '13 at 9:08

Quoting Urban dictionary.com:

kthxbye: shortening of "k thx bye". The K is short for OK, which is short for oll korrect, which is a facetious alteration of All Correct. thx is short for thanx which is a facetious alteration of thanks which is short for thank you. Bye is short for goodbye, which is an alteration of alteration of God be with you. kthxbye is the pinnacle of English's advancement, shortening All correct, Thank you, God be with you. into seven lowercase letters.

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Urban Dictionary isn't the most reliable of sources. Some people would also claim that "kthxbye" more closely resembles the nadir rather than the pinnacle of the English language. You might want to consider finding a different source altogether. – kitukwfyer Aug 20 '10 at 20:00
The answer doesn't explain the origin of goodbye, which is what the OP asked. – kiamlaluno Sep 5 '10 at 8:21
+1 for mentioning lolcat, the pinnacle of english language. – Jim Thio Dec 17 '11 at 4:28
I took "pinnacle" to be tongue-in-cheek. You have to admit that 8 words in 7 lowercase letters is quite the "achievement"! – meustrus Jul 25 '14 at 21:56

protected by tchrist Jul 1 '14 at 1:03

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