Saying goodbye is said to be one of the hardest things to do, but there are many ways of saying it.
Goodbye is an abbreviation of ‘God be with you’. Farewell means ‘I hope you stay well’.
Au revoir is French for ‘Until we meet again’ and Vaya con dios, which you might remember from old cowboy films, is Spanish for ‘Go with God’.
The Spanish Adios and the French Adieu both mean ‘to God’ or literally, ‘We’ll see each other in heaven when we’re both dead.’ In earlier days, farewells were often final ones, where loved ones knew they would never meet again, so these would not have been used lightly.
In Italian, Arrivederci means ‘Until we meet again’ and was made famous by the song Arrivederci Roma sung by Mario Lanza in 1955 in the film Seven Hills of Rome. A more informal goodbye in Italian is Ciao (pronounced ‘chow’), which literally means ‘I am your slave’, similar to the English ‘At your service’. It comes from s-ciào, the Venetian word for ‘slave’. Ciao is used both for hello and goodbye.
The German farewell, Auf wiedersehen, means ‘Until we see each other again’ and Tot ziens is Dutch for ‘See you later’.
In the Russian language, the usual way to say goodbye in almost any situation is Do svidaniya (duh svee-dah-nee-ye), which literally means ‘Till (the next) meeting’. If you’re on informal terms with somebody, you may also say a casual Poka – ‘Bye’.
The Hebrew word Shalom, which can be used for hello or goodbye, is related to the Arabic word Salaam. They both mean ‘peace’.
One of the many ways of saying goodbye in Chinese is Zài jiàn – ‘See you again’ or Shī péi le – ‘Sorry for leaving’.
In English we can also say cheerio, so long or even toodle-oo – not often heard anymore. The latter probably came from the Irish tooraloo, which you might know from the Irish lullaby Toora loora.
In fact, the Irish have a very eloquent and moving farewell:
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
Australians have several ways of saying good-bye. See you later! or Catch you later! can cause confusion to those not familiar with these sayings. You can see them thinking “Do we have an arrangement to meet later?” There’s also See you round like a rissole! or just plain See ya! And one more classic… Hoo Roo!