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What should the correct response be (from someone not overtly religious) if someone says "God bless" when parting company?

"Bye now" or "Bye" doesn't seem an adequate response.

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7  
Someone who says "God bless" as a normal goodbye must be used to having people saying all sorts of different things, since this must catch a lot of people off guard! (Unless there is a region where this is used quite often that I don't know about.) – Kosmonaut Sep 7 '10 at 14:49
    
Generally it means "OK, we can stop saying 'Good Bye' to each other now." – Hot Licks Mar 17 at 1:21
    
As a footnote, "Good night, and may God bless" was the sign-off phrase of TV commedian Red Skelton. People older than about 60 are apt to use the phrase remembering him. – Hot Licks Mar 17 at 2:04
    
The normal religious formula is "God bless you", not "God bless". The object who God should bless is lacking. – rogermue Mar 17 at 5:46
    
@rogermue - But "God bless" (or "May God bless"), absent the "you", is a common parting greeting. – Hot Licks Mar 17 at 19:39
up vote 9 down vote accepted

I think it comes down to A) how religious the other person is, B) how religious you are, and C) how much you want to avoid potentially insulting the person. If they are very religious and you are not, and you want to avoid any hint of insult to their religion or any potential conflict, better just say something religious or at least agreeing back:

"Thanks, same to you".

If you can't stand to say something that even acknowledges their beliefs, I think it at least doesn't hurt to acknowledge their sentiment, so you could just say "Thanks, bye." That's probably what I'd do.

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Equally, if you were religious, refusing to reciprocate would be even more insulting! – Marcin Apr 18 '11 at 16:39

I had a friend in college who liked to respond to "God bless" with "Goddess protect". As I recall he did so just to be different from us other geeks who would sometimes respond with "Live long and prosper".

Seriously, though, I think that a polite "Thank you" should be sufficient.

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I like that. I may start using it (if anyone even has the guts to say that to me any more). – Bill K Mar 21 '11 at 19:16

I'll often reply, "Take care." Sounds a little warmer than "bye," and not particularly religious.

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You could respond with a Jewish farewell, illustrating that not everyone sees the world the same way, but also probably alienating your friend

Shalom!

Or you could be polite and simply say

you too!

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"Be well," said with a smile.

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The origin of "goodbye" (hence "bye") is "God be with you", so it is about on the same level. I think "goodbye" (or perhaps "goodbye to you, too") could be appropriate, just "bye" perhaps not so much.

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@kguest might feel a bare goodbye is a cold response when reflecting an effusive God Bless! – Ed Guiness Sep 7 '10 at 13:09
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That's where the word comes from, but I don't think goodbye has any religious meaning in modern English. – TRiG Oct 18 '10 at 17:13

"And you as well" is the best and most comfortable response for me.

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Hello, welcome to EL&U. Just so you know, unlike, for example. Yahoo! Answers, we do not really encourage personal opinions in our answers. If you can add evidence to your answer that this is formally "correct", in some sense, or at least widely used by native speakers, that would improve it, and reduce the chances that it will be removed. – Dan Bron Mar 17 at 18:22

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