Goodbye - I’m sure that you have overheard people from various religious and cultural groups as they slip into their comfortable statements of god or the divine while they meet or depart, “Bless you,” “Peace be upon him,“ “Adieu” or “Adios.” Do you find yourself doing the same thing?

For about the past 20 years I’ve rolling my eyes, muttering something to myself like, “Good grief” or raising an eyebrow in contempt of their pious salutations. It is now time for me to consider bidding farewell to a statement of my own - Goodbye.

Without giving it a second thought this lifelong atheist has said hello and goodbye to friends, family and strangers. While speaking French or Spanish I have consciously avoided saying Adieu or Adios since the religious connection to the words seemed all to obvious and made me feel uncomfortable…unlike the word goodbye.

‘Goodbye’ slipped into our vernacular about 430 years ago and made itself at home with theists, atheist, agnostics and the rest of the English speaking population. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the etymology of the word goodbye is an “alteration of God be with you [from] circa 1580.”

So there it is – another harmless word that will make me stop and consider the impact that it could have on future generations. Should I continue to weed out words while hoping that they will someday disappear from common use? Should I try to change the meaning of the word god, which seems like an easier task? What would you do?

Tags: Etymology, Goodbye, Language

Views: 23

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I wouldn't have thought that 'goodbye' had a theistic connotation. We've got replacements for 'adios' in spanish, such as 'hasta luego' [until later] or 'nos vemos' [we'll see each other].
I guess you still have 'farewell', but it's not a very common usage, is it?
If you're looking for someone to follow you around with a drum to do drumrolls, do you give health benefits? How about a snazzy uniform?

I picked up "Our feet are the same" from a friend when i was living in Florida. I'm glad to see great minds ooze in similar gutters.
Well, while it's origin is a phrase inciting the blessing of god, it's current pronunciation is easily inferrable to mean that you just want a "good" "bye". So it doesn't necessarily conjure thoughts of the Lord God Almighty, until you start looking into where "bye" come from (probably wouldn't make sense alone, eh?). I don't think many people know the roots of the word "goodbye" (other than here, I've only heard that history from my mom years ago), but of course it still matters if you do. So, I understand wanting to abandon deity-related statements. For example, I have stopped using 'bless you' for someone who has just sneezed as I do not believe that a demon has been expelled along with the dust or pepper irritating their nasal cavity. In this case however, the risk probably isn't religious offense, but just plain being rude (by omission). Perhaps "luckbye" or "hopebye" would be a welcome change from goodbye? I've also abandoned "goodbye" (for the most part at least) -- my personal favorite parting words now are "take care".
I wouldn't be at all concerned about using the expression "goodbye". It is very common for words to change their meaning in the history of a language. It is incorrect to think that a word or expression still "properly" means whatever it did originally. It means whatever it means now. For example, at one point in English, the word "silly" meant "holy". But even now that you know that, I don't think it should stop you from calling things you find absurd "silly" just because the word meant "holy" before it meant "absurd". Later days, dude, gotta bail.
Yeah... now that I think about it, it's a bit silly (not as in holy) to change the words we use because they are somehow tainted with theism. The use we give them is what dictates their meaning.
Still, I'm going with more unconventional greetings and farewells, 'farewell' and perhaps 'our feet are the same', though I'm not so sure about liking this second one (sorry, Judith, it's not as dramatic).
I like "our feet are the same". Wonder if it'll catch on? If you say it, does it mean you're solemates?
Solemates, ouch. I've always interpreted "our feet are the same" as (apart from the mangled German) a way of expressing an egalitarian sentiment. Or maybe just an ominous portent, as in, "Our feet are the same now, but after I walk home, mine will be tireder than yours."
Yeah... now that I think about it, it's a bit silly (not as in holy) to change the words we use because they are somehow tainted with theism. The use we give them is what dictates their meaning.
Still, I'm going with more unconventional greetings and farewells


Agreed.

Nos vemos.
Actually, that'll make me even more apt to use "silly", what with the concept of holiness being silly and all. Any opportunity to equate religion and absurdity is fine by me!
Roo - interesting topic! I had no idea. Time to purge our lexicon of Theistic malarky!

I like Vandrerol's comment about using "Hasta luego." We infuse Spanish into English my workplace fairly often anyway. It's how we pretend that we are multilingual.

I have friends who use "ciao". I thought it sounded a little foo foo when non-Italians said it, but according to wikipedia "The word derives from the Venetian phrase s-ciào vostro or s-ciào su literally meaning "I am your slave".

Judith - How's that for drama?

I tend to use a lot of "Have a nice day" or "Have a nice afternoon" or whatever, must be left coast influence there.
Ciao!

Haha, I always remember Eddie Izzard when I hear 'ciao' or see a vespa.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

MJ

Latest Activity

Napoleon Bonaparte commented on Samantha Madison's status
11 minutes ago
Idaho Spud commented on Ruth Anthony-Gardner's group Hang With Friends
12 minutes ago
Idaho Spud commented on Ruth Anthony-Gardner's group Hang With Friends
13 minutes ago
Napoleon Bonaparte commented on Loren Miller's status
30 minutes ago
Idaho Spud commented on Ruth Anthony-Gardner's group Hang With Friends
34 minutes ago
Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Anthony Jordan's discussion A Short Course in Logic
48 minutes ago
Idaho Spud commented on Ruth Anthony-Gardner's group Hang With Friends
56 minutes ago
Idaho Spud commented on Ruth Anthony-Gardner's group Hang With Friends
59 minutes ago
Loren Miller posted a status
"A Higgs Boson walks into a church. The priest says, we don't allow bosons in here. The Higgs Boson replies, then how do you have mass?"
1 hour ago
Dr. Allan H. Clark replied to Anthony Jordan's discussion A Short Course in Logic
1 hour ago
Samantha Madison posted a status
"FREETHINKERS ARE DANGEROUS!!!!!!"
1 hour ago
booklover replied to matthew greenberg's discussion Teh Stoopid...it's killing me!!
1 hour ago

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service