Is there any word in English that you should use when you want to say :


for a person and both of you know that you'll never see again?

"Farewell" ?

or Something else?

  • 5
    My grandmother, on her deathbed, realizing it was her last moments, turned to my cousin (her grandchild) and said, simply "Have a nice life, dear". Then died.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 2:01
  • 7
    The answer seems to be in your title.
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 4:33
  • "Hey! Look over there!". Then turn and run.
    – jimm101
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 19:21
  • If you are of a religion that believes in life after death or reincarnation, say "Hasta la vista".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 20:26
  • As Muslims, when a person dies, we recite "We surely belong to the Creator and to Him we shall return.". But I don't think you mean goodbye forever as if a dear friend passed away. You want something to say to people you hate to see again?
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 20:45

9 Answers 9


I think "Farewell" is the best you can do in English. It's a blessing for a good future and it carries a lot of emotion. "Goodbye" started out as a blessing, but now it usually means "'til next time" and it's a polite way to take one's leave. You might say "Goodbye" to your wife when you leave in the morning, but if you said "Farewell" she would wonder whether you were ever coming back.


Besides Farewell which seems to me the more appropriate, how about So Long, au revoir (French, but you might see it in English as well), adios or adieu?

In some movies when two characters know that they won't meet again, they say Later, which is a hopeful kind of goodbye, because it implies that you might see each other again (even though you won't)

If you are best buddies with the departing person, you might use an informal word like cheerio.

Or you might turn farewell into a sentence like I fare you well.

  • Addendum for my first suggestion: And thanks for all the fish Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 17:08
  • 2
    Doesn't au revoir mean roughly "until we see each other again"? It's the punchline of a World War II comedy dialogue by Beyond the Fringe, where Perkins (a flyer) is assigned to a suicide mission by his commanding officer because "We need a futile gesture just now. It'll raise the whole tone of the war." Perkins bravely accepts the assignment and then says, "Well, goodbye, sir—or perhaps it's just 'au revoir.'" Commanding Officer: "No, Perkins!"
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Mar 10, 2016 at 7:34
  • 2
    Not sure "I fare you well" is a valid sentence.
    – Jim
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 19:02
  • Adieu is good, so long seems ok, but au revoir is not right (it's occasionally used in English in contrast with adieu).
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 9:29
  • @Jim As far as I know, it isn't - "farewell" is a wish for you (the listener) to fare well.
    – Divizna
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 23:24

When I was in the first grade, we had a substitute teacher. She was our teacher for six months. Friday the last day of school for the week. The teacher told us that our regular teacher would be back Monday. We all started to cry, and said goodbye. She said to us, goodbye is forever. With that said we never did see her again. In that matter goodbye was forever. I am 94 years old and have never used goodbye. I taught my eight children, And the rest of my family. Not to use that phrase goodbye, because goodbye is forever. most of my friends, do not use the word goodbye. For respect.


If it's someone you part with in a negative way, someone you don't like and never whish to see again, you could say:

See you never! (informal)

If it is someone with whom you are on agreeable terms, then you could say

See you in heaven


See you up there.

However, note that it is informal and implies a certain degree of intimacy with the person to whom you say this. It also implies you both believe in afterlife.

I have also heard

Have a good life

which can be a permanent farewell or an insult, depending on tone and context.

Formally, I guess the context will tell you if 'goodbye or farewell' means for ever or not.

Grammarphobia shows that

The Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for the word (spelled “good-bye”) doesn’t include any evidence that the term was ever limited to a permanent leave-taking. The OED says the word, which entered English in the 16th century, is a “contraction of the phrase God be with you (or ye).”

About farewell, the same site says

“Farewell” is a one-word version of the phrase “fare well,” in which to “fare” means to travel or make one’s way. The word was first recorded in William Langland’s Piers Plowman (1377). And the OED defines it simply as

an expression of good wishes at the parting of friends, originally addressed to the one setting forth, but in later use a mere formula of civility at parting.

It is true, however, that one feels farewell could be for ever, at least for a longer period of time. Grammarphobia explains:

Nevertheless, we detect a sense of permanence when “farewell” is used as an attributive noun (that is, adjectivally) in phrases like “farewell address,” “farewell dinner,” “farewell gift,” “farewell letter,” and “farewell speech.”

The OED describes “farewell” as synonymous with “Goodbye!” or “Adieu!” But it adds that today “farewell” is used poetically or rhetorically, “chiefly implying regretful feeling.”

The “regretful” part may be the key here. Certainly there’s an element of sadness in “farewell” that isn’t present in “goodbye.”


There really isn't a specific word for this in the English language itself, this is even used in the BBC program "Doctor Who" as a way to develop the main character, who says that he "always hates goodbyes" because he believes that saying goodbye means you will never see someone again.

As some other answerers have noted, words such as "sayonara" are often used to communicate finality, but other than that "goodbye for the last time" can only really be effectively said with the aid of context or tone of voice. The term "farewell" can, on occasion, be used for this but again, requires context. The word is actually a medieval word for wishing someone a good journey: literally to "travel well"


Or, if you and your friend are both fans of Dr. Strangelove- you can sing We'll Meet Again", Not a single word- but very specific to reference, person and relationship.



You think it isn‘t English? If it was English enough for Shakespeare, it should be English enough for you:

And farewell friends,
Thus Thisbe ends.
Adieu, adieu, adieu.

The finality, as in the French, is clear.

  • See also the comment from @StuartF on the difference between au revoir ( I do not know whether this comes in Shakespeare) and adieu in French.
    – David
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 21:26

Sayonara. I have no idea why, but there is a definite sense of finality about it.

Japanese for 'goodbye'; however, it carries more finality. Instead of being used at the end of a day, as in "Goodbye see you tomorrow," it would be used in situations where you will either not see the person for a long time, if ever again.

From urban dictionary. Sometimes you find exactly what you are looking for.

  • 4
    It carries a finality in English, at least to people over 60 or so, in large part due to a 1957 movie by that name, and also probably due to the use of the term in various WWII movies.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 5:00
  • 1
    (In the WWII movies the term was sometimes used in much the same way as the more recently familiar "Hasta la vista, baby!")
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 15:11
  • Urban Dictionary is good for some kinds of slang, but you need a better reference (some UD entries have hundreds of up-votes, others are the work of a random stranger, so at least provide a link so we can see how many votes it gets.)
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 9:31

"God Be With Ye." (Longform of Goodbye)

"Godspeed/God speed you."

In a different way than Sayonara, I think these are more like "I will not see you again for at least a very long time, so I will invoke God."

"Farewell" in this sense is a little weak, I think.

  • Interesting, but needs references or evidence.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 9:30

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