We often colloquially use the phrase so long to say goodbye. For eg. So long, we'll see you next week or He said so long and left.

What is the origin of this phase? Rather, how did it come into being? I would also like to know the circumstances under which its usage would be deemed appropriate.

EDIT: Is this phrase some sort of corruption of any phrase in some other language(looking at the answers) or it has some meaning to it in English Language as well?

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    So long – Matt E. Эллен Dec 5 '12 at 8:50
  • Atlease @MattЭллен's comment perfectly explains the etymology part.... – Sayan Dec 5 '12 at 10:55
  • I see a down vote. Would the voter atleast care to share his/her grievances?? – Sayan Dec 6 '12 at 5:41
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    I don't think that this question is answerable by consulting a "general reference." Etymology Online (the source cited in Matt E. Эллен"s comment above) offers a review of competing origin theories, with no examples of actual early instances of the phrase for context. In a preliminary Google Books search, the earliest instance of "So long for now" that I could find was from June 1918—58 years after the origin date for "so long" by itself given in Etymology Onlione. I recommend reopening the question, to encourage a closer examination of how and where it was first used in English. – Sven Yargs Jun 11 at 0:38

The OED gives a first use in 1865. No explanation is given, but comparison is made with German so lange. It is a purely colloquial expression, and one that seems to be limited to particular idiolects. I wouldn’t use it myself. It may be more common in American than in British English.

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    I note that the first citation is from The Lays and Legends of Peter Perfume – Collected, corrected, and edited [or rather, written] by F.H. Nixon was published in Melbourne, Australia by Ferdinand François Baillière in 1865. Given where it was published, and also the content of other titles by the same author, to all appearances, Francis H. Nixon was Australian. – tchrist Dec 5 '12 at 14:52
  • c.f. Shakespeare's "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day", last two lines. But no, that is not likely the origin. – rleir May 16 '17 at 7:27

It certainly seems American to me. If it has a German origin, it might well have to do with migration from Germany to America in the nineteenth century.

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    Barry could you please be a little more descriptive. Coz, your answer here seems more like a mere comment to me. – Sayan Dec 5 '12 at 12:45

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