The Word Goodbye

Goodbye is a word we use often in our daily lives: when we leave home in the morning, when we leave work or school, when we meet up with friends and leave them after our chat, when we leave from visiting our family. Goodbye can also be one of the most difficult words to say in the English language.

The French express goodbye using two words: au revoir (meaning until we meet again) and adieu (until we meet in front of God). It is the goodbye expressing adieu that can be so difficult: it is a goodbye with the knowledge that we will never meet the person again. The adieus that I have said, have been those to loved ones that have passed away. I know that I will never see them again, and it was a goodbye that was heart wrenching.

There are those goodbyes that express au revoir: goodbyes that do not cause any emotional upheaval. I have found, however, when I say au revoir to my family in South Africa that at times the emotion I experience borders on an adieu goodbye. This may be because I am never sure when I will see them again: the next time I am able to visit, or in front of God.

But at least the word goodbye in the English language (as in any language) is balanced by the positivity of the word hello.

What are your experiences of the word goodbye?

(Join me in the Five Minute Friday Challenge hosted by The Gypsy Mama. Participants write for 5 minutes with no editing, no over thinking, and no backtracking. This week’s prompt is: Goodbye.)

28 thoughts on “The Word Goodbye

    1. Like you say, you never know when the person may come into your life again. Reminds me a bit of my policy never to burn bridges – but that is another topic :)


  1. Greeting from Iceland

    Young people today often say hi and bye when greeting people. Young people at all times have always created their own form of greetings.
    As we age we use the good old greeting that we inherited from our ancestors.
    When we meet people then we say come blessed and happy and when we go away we say be blessed and happy. In Icelandic it is komdu blessuð og sæl and vertu blessuð og sæl.
    Sometimes we shorten the greeting, especially when we met the same people often in one day, then we say just blessed.

    So I now say, vertu blessuð og sæl

    Inga Hel


    1. What a lovely tradition – and it is so sad that the young people no longer use it. I like that your geetings focus on wishing people happiness. Thank you for sharing this interesting part of your culture.


  2. Fantastic post Colline!
    I love to read other bloggers comments to see the variety of interpretations. Each person is unique and has their own viewpoint based on their culture and life experiences. Very interesting. I like what newsferret said – that goodbye is all in the tone and it is a word on thin ice – basically dangerous and precarious all at once with a hint of possibilities depending on the terms under which it is spoken. I love that in Iceland they say blessed and happy. I’ve never been a fan of the word goodbye…. a sad word. I try not to say it, but then what do you say? Usually I say it in another language – ciao!


  3. The hardest goodbyes for me,,when my kids would drive off to return to college..and every time my son leaves to go back to very far…The worst? Leaving him in Montana, to begin college..he knew no one there…four days later…Sept. 11, 2001..I was so afraid, he was so far away.


  4. As always it is wonderful post… You expressed so nicely… In my own language we say “Allah”a Ismarladık” or “Allah’a emanet ol” it means “be entrusted by God”… It is very old saying like that, but we also use, “Hoşçakal” means “stay in pleasure after my leaving… But we also use Bye Bye in our language too… On the other hand, I don’t like to use any of them… And I don’t use too… “To see you again”, “See you again…” etc. are my preferring words..

    Thank you dear Colline, with my love, nia


    1. Thank you Nia for sharing the words that you use in your own language – it is so interesting to learn the habits of another language and culture. I like the term “Hoşçakal” as it suggests that you do not wish anyone to be upset at your leaving. :)


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