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?