The Real Reason We Say Goodbye

"Goodbye" is a common enough word used to bid someone or something farewell, according to Dictionary. We say goodbye in certain serious situations, such as when a loved one or relative dies. Or we may say it lightly, like when we part with a friend, even for just a little while. But have you ever stopped to wonder: Why do we say goodbye? As in, what exactly is a "bye," and why must they always be good?

Oftentimes, we shorten goodbye to just "bye," and these days, there are lots of alternatives to goodbye, like "see you later," "have a good one," or even just "later!" In the age of texting and social media, we may even just sign-off "TTYL," standing for "talk to you later." Nevertheless, goodbye remains our go-to when the time comes time to bid something or someone adieu, and it's been that way since at least the 1560s and '70s, as Dictionary reports.

The word goodbye is a contraction

According to Psychology Today, there's more value in saying goodbye than just simple logistics. There are psycho-emotional benefits as well. The chance to say goodbye — to friends, colleagues, or even just a certain period of time in our life — provides closure, or a sense that one stage of life is complete, and that it's time to move on to another. Being deprived of an opportunity to say goodbye — whether real or metaphorical — can create feelings of guilt, as well as other possible negative side effects.

Back to the word "goodbye" itself, it's actually a contraction of "god be with ye," and evidence of goodbye's use dates back to the late 16th century, per Dictionary. The phrase "god be with ye" means nothing more than "may god watch over you until we meet again," or a Christian-based way of wishing someone you're parting with good luck. Over time, "god be with you," became shortened to "goodbye," "bye," "bye bye," among many other more modern equivalents.