How One Little Word Can Mean So Much

Saying goodbye is never easy. This is especially true when you’re saying goodbye to someone— or something—that you’ve grown fond of. Good thing there are so many languages to choose from when it’s time to bid adieu.

Origins of the Word Goodbye

Around the time of the 16th century, the popular way of saying goodbye in English “was formed partly by clipping or shortening ‘God be with you,’ where people speak hastily or in shorthand, and partly by compounding, the practice of combining two or more words into one” (Columbia Journalism Review). This was a way to bestow a blessing of travel safety on the leaving party. Though social media and electronic communications make contact across the miles easier today, this was not always the case. As Scientific American explains, “There was a time when departure from loved ones forced you to consider the very real possibility that the parting could be permanent, or very, very, very, very extended.”

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

From “goodbye” to “see you later,” here are a few common expressions when parting ways with other people.


  • Japanese – Sayonara
  • Italian – Arrivederci
  • German – Auf Wiedersehen
  • Spanish – Adios
  • French – Au Revoir
  • Greek – Yasou
  • Creole – Orevwa
  • Gaelic – Slan
  • Latin – vale (to one person); valete (to more than one person)
  • Korean – “anyeonghi gasyeo” if you’re staying and the other person is leaving; “annyeonghi kyeseyo” if you’re the one leaving.


  • French – Adieu
  • Spanish – Adios
  • Romanian – Ramas bun
  • Norwegian – Farvel

In the hopes of seeing one again soon:

  • Swedish – vi ses – see you
  • Afrikaans – tot wederdon – see you again soon
  • Japanese – ja manta ne – see you again
  • Hindi – fir milenge – see you
  • Tamil – poitu varein – taking leave, but will visit again
  • Pleasant sentiments of parting:
  • Hebrew – shalom Aleichem – peace be upon you
  • Bengali – Bhaalo thaakben – stay well
  • Croatian – Idi s Bogom – go with God
  • Swedish – Ha det så bra – take care
  • Portuguese – adeus – may you go with God’s blessing

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