We have, for example, phrases like, “When I was greeting …” in which greeting is essentially shorthand for “saying ‘Hello’ to someone” derived from a related verb (to greet).

However, to my knowledge, English does not have a term for “saying ‘Goodbye’ to someone” despite all the related verbs (farewell, goodbye, etc.).

Are there any words which come close to fulfilling such a role? If not, is it due to an absence of such phrases in English's primary language influences (Germanic and Anglo-Francophone), or was it a phrase that existed in those contributing languages but failed to persist in Modern English?


9 Answers 9


Leavetaking (or leave-taking) is “The process of saying goodbye”. Wiktionary gives the following example:

The formal leave-taking ceremony of a diplomat can take all day [...]

According to google ngrams, recent usage of leave-taking has been about four times as frequent as that of leavetaking, with usage of the latter being five to ten times as high as that of farewelling.


Um, the single word for "say farewell" is farewell. This is English. You can use any word at all as a verb.

  • Wiktionary:

    farewell (third-person singular simple present farewells, present participle farewelling, simple past and past participle farewelled)

    1. To bid farewell or say goodbye

      • 2009 February 9, Neil Wilson and staff writers, “Tributes for newsman Brian Naylor and wife, killed in fires”, Herald Sun:
        He farewelled viewers with a warm sign-off after each bulletin: "May your news be good news, and goodnight."
  • Merriam-Webster:

    transitive verb
    chiefly Australian & New Zealand

    : to bid farewell to
    The retiring teacher was farewelled by the whole school at a special assembly.
    First known use: 1580

  • 1
    What a lot of things you use 'Farewell' for. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 21:53
  • 3
    @EdwinAshworth Yes, Gandalf. And good morning.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 22:08
  • 1
    Explains why it's chiefly NZ. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 22:21

Since the headline formulation of the question asks for the single-word equivalent of a gerund phrase, I will venture a noun: valediction. Per OED the verb form valedict is “rare.”

  • Ideally, the solution would also be a gerund.
    – HalosGhost
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:31
  • 1
    @HalosGhost Does the verb valedict not fulfill that criterion? Nevertheless, I am unsure of whether the verb is transitive or in-. You can greet someone, but can you valedict him? Perhaps Brian can answer that quandary.
    – Anonym
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:37
  • @Anonym, perhaps it is due to the rarity of the phrase, but I have never heard valedicting used before. I would also like to see if Brian can elaborate further.
    – HalosGhost
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:39
  • OED says intr.; sole example is itself a definition. And I should think valediction itself would serve all the functions of the gerund valedicting, though not of the present participle. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:41

Not in particularly common use, but there is a present participle of farewell: "farewelling".

See, for example, "Farewelling troops at Lyttelton, 1940".


"Goodbyes" is a single word noun that can be used as you want. So is Farewells

I said my goodbyes to my school friends at graduation.

  • 1
    Can you "good-bye" your friends? That doesn't sound right to me.
    – Casey
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 13:25

Parting(s/words) work here.

done or said by someone when they are leaving

And adieu is understood but is similar to saying your goodbyes.

a farewell remark

I bid adieu to all of my friends before leaving.

Say your adieus before leaving the function.


As I commented, "seeing off" is another example in fairly common modern usage, and in a similar manner to your use of the word 'greeting'.

It also allows a range of tenses in the normal conjugation of 'to see':

"I saw them off as they left for their holiday"

"Before seeing them off, I gave their daughter a gift for her upcoming birthday"

"Roger will see you off"

And many others. As you can see these are readily replaced by "greet", "greeting", and "greeted".


The only verb I can think of with any real pedigree is valedict, which describes the act of bidding goodbye just as salute describes that of bidding greeting. The Latin etymology of the two words is helpful: salve(te) is a Latin imperative used to greet someone, from the verb salveo (imperative because it really means "be well"); from this verb came the verb salutare, to bid greeting, whence the substantive salutatio, a greeting. Conversely, to bid farewell, one said vale(te), another imperative (meaning something like "be strong"); hence the verb valedico, to bid farewell, and thence the substantive valedictio, a bidding farewell.

From these two Latin verbs come the names of the speeches given at graduation ceremonies in the West -- one to bid greeting (the salutatory speech), and one to bid farewell (the valedictory speech). And thence the common verb "to salute" (and noun "salutation"), as well as the much less common verb "to valedict" (and the somewhat commoner noun "valediction").

I vote we mount a concerted effort to bring "valedict" more into vogue.

  • 'Valediction' and the vanishingly rare 'valedict' have already been given, samuel. Commented Dec 28, 2020 at 19:41
  • Oh no! I could have been certain I'd read the entire thread. My apologies for the redundancy. Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 20:09
  • So deleting the answer to aid others faced with navigating an increasingly lengthy thread seems a good move. Commented Dec 30, 2020 at 15:28

Dismiss and usher out come close to fulfilling that role.

dismiss: to direct or allow to leave

usher out: end one's encounter with someone by causing or permitting the person to leave

Alternately, salute can also be used as an expression of farewell.

salute: to greet or address with an expression of welcome, goodwill, or respect

He saluted me and left.

  • Dismiss is close, in that it signals a closing statement, but it focuses on having the recipient of the statement leave. On the other hand, if someone were to use the term I am looking for, it would not necessarily place such emphasis. If any implication were to be made, it would be that the subject is dismissing one's self. If that is helpful and necessary information, I would gladly add it to the OP. Else, your current offerings are a step forward, but not quite solutions.
    – HalosGhost
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 20:13

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