auld lang syne

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

An early-20th-century New Year’s postcard with the slogan “For Auld Lang Syne”[n 1]
(file)
American singer Frank C. Stanley’s rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”, released in 1910

From Scots auld lang syne (old long ago, literally old long since), popularized by the poem “Auld Lang Syne” (1788) by Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759–1796) based on an older song.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

auld lang syne (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Days gone by; former times.
    • [[1701?], An Excellent and Proper New Ballad, Entituled, Old Long Syne, [][3] (facsimile of broadside), [Edinburgh: s.n.; reproduced on The Word on the Street, National Library of Scotland], published 2004, OCLC 316396487, archived from the original on 9 October 2014:
      Is thy ſweet Heart now grown ſo cold, / that loving Breaſt of thine; / That thou canſt never once reflect / on Old long ſyne. / [Chorus] On Old long ſyne my Jo, / on Old long ſyne, / That thou canſt never once reflect, / on Old long ſyne.]
    • 1788, Robert Burns; James Johnson, compiler, “[No. 413] Auld Lang Syne”, in The Scots Musical Museum: In Six Volumes. [], volume V, Edinburgh: Printed & sold by James Johnson music seller [], published 1796, OCLC 219473961, page 426:
      Should auld acquaintance be forgot / And never brought to mind? / Should auld acquaintance be forgot, / And auld lang syne! / [Chorus] For auld lang syne my jo, / For auld lang syne, / We'll tak a cup of o' kindness yet for auld lang syne.
    • 1849, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], “The First Blue-stocking”, in Shirley. A Tale. [...] In Three Volumes, volume III, London: Smith, Elder and Co., [], OCLC 84390265, page 89:
      That "Auld Langsyne" had still its authority both with preceptor and scholar, was proved by the manner in which he sometimes promptly passed the distance she usually maintained between them, and put down her high reserve with a firm, quiet hand.
    • 1861, Isabella Beeton, “Recipes [Game]”, in The Book of Household Management; [], London: S[amuel] O[rchart] Beeton, [], OCLC 794496008, paragraph 1056 (Roast Hare), page 539:
      The "Grand Carver" of olden times, a functionary of no ordinary dignity, was pleased when he had a hare to manipulate, for his skill and grace had an opportunity of display. Diners à la Russe may possibly, erewhile, save modern gentlemen the necessity of learning the art which was in auld lang syne one of the necessary accomplishments of the youthful squire; but, until side-tables become universal, or till we see the office of "grand carver" once more instituted, it will be well for all to learn how to assist at the carving of this dish, which, if not the most elegant in appearance, is a very general favourite.
    • 1922 December, Harold Avery, “A Sixth Form Feud. A Public School Story.”, in The Boy’s Own Paper, volume XLV, part 2, London: "Boy's Own Paper" Office, [], OCLC 870086995, chapter VIII (A Rough-and-tumble), page 128, column 1:
      “I don’t see how we can make any return, unless you’ll be good enough to buy yourself a bit more tobacco.” / “My dear boy—if you’ll excuse me using such a word,” returned Bowcher, “I don’t want to rob you of your pocket money. If I’ve been any help to you—well, we’ll say it’s for ‘auld lang syne’.”
    • 1928 March 3, Percy Grainger, “Mother”, in Malcolm Gillies, David Pear, and Mark Carroll, editor, Self-portrait of Percy Grainger, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, published 2006, →ISBN, paragraph 19 (Thots of Mother while Scoring To a Nordic Princess):
      It is in ‘auld lang syne’ that we who are dead find our full despotic kingdom at last—that oneness of sway that even the truest, sweetest love can never assure us of while living.
    • 2017 December, Karen Weisner, chapter 10, in For Auld Lang Syne (Adventures in Amethyst Series; 8), [Morrisville, N.C.]: Lulu, →ISBN, page 95:
      He had to win Harper's respect on his own terms, on hers, even if that meant they were never more than old friends saying farewell for auld lang syne.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ From the collection of the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, USA.

References[edit]

  1. ^ “The History and Words of Auld Lang Syne”, in Scotland.org[1], 7 February 2017, archived from the original on 10 July 2018.

Further reading[edit]


Scots[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Cognate to English old long since: see auld + lang + syne. The term was popularized by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759–1796), but the phrase predates his version of the poem “Auld Lang Syne” (1788).[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˌɔl(d) ˌlɑŋ ˈsəin/

Noun[edit]

auld lang syne (uncountable)

  1. (idiomatic) Days gone by; former times.
    • 1788, Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne:
      For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.
    • 1839, Dialogues, Poems, Songs, and Ballads, page 161
      Yet, man, it’s lang sen we, togither / Hev hed a crack wi’ yen anither / An now I’m nowther leath nor lither / If ye’ve a meynde / To reang first tea part an’ than t’other / Of auld lang syne.
    • 1867, Eliakim Littell, Robert S. Littell, The Living Age ..., page 385:
      And when I’m cutting, and stitching, and hammering,, at the window, and dreaming o’ auld lang syne, and fechting my battles ower again, and when I think o’ this and that awra’ time that I have seen wi’ brave comrades noo lying in some neuk in Spain

References[edit]

  1. ^ See, for example, An Excellent and Proper New Ballad, Entituled, Old Long Syne, [][2], [Edinburgh: s.n.; reproduced on The Word on the Street, National Library of Scotland], [1701?], published 2004, OCLC 316396487, archived from the original on 9 October 2014.