Meaning of ‘Let Bygones Be Bygones’
This is an English phrase that is said when someone wants past problems to be forgotten about and they desire to go back to being on friendly terms.
The Origin of ‘Let Bygones Be Bygones’
Before we talk about the origin of the phrase ‘let bygones be bygones,’ let us first touch briefly on what that word means. Indeed, what does “bygone” mean, anyway? It is something that is in the past, so it could be a person you used to know, an event that happened, or maybe an old memory. For example, let’s say you were having a conversation with someone and some old roommates you used to live with were brought up. If you didn’t want to talk about them, you might say: “I don’t want to talk about old bygones.”
According to Dictionary.com, the origin of the word “bygone” is somewhere between 1375-1425. Unfortunately, I could not find any examples of the word being used during those years. The earliest known appearance of it that I have seen is from the Shakespeare play The Winter’s Tale, 1611:
“The by-gone day proclaim’d: say this to him.”
What about the full phrase “let bygones be bygones”? Its first known use is in a work by Samuel Rutherford, 1636:
“Pray that byegones betwixt me and my Lord may be byegones.”
Since this expression dates back to 1636, that would make it, at minimum, 384 years old. A lot of phrases come and go in that amount of time, but this one has stuck around and is commonly used today.
- We’ve had our differences in the past, but what do you say we let bygones be bygones?
- Last night, we both said things out of anger, so how about we forgive and forget the whole thing and move on?
- My friend and I went out separate ways after a heated argument we had years ago. Since then, he’s apologized so maybe it’s time we bury the hatchet.