by the by
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The second "by" is a noun meaning "a secondary issue". Phrase used since the 17th century.
- Used to introduce a new topic; incidentally, by the way.
- 1831, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Romance and Reality, volume 2, page 70-71:
- Now, Mrs. Clarke was one of those to whom caps and crape were the very morality of mourning—she was not the only one, by the by, with whom propriety stands for principle,...
by the way — see by the way
- Incidental; unplanned.
- 1990, Susan Sherman, The color of the heart: writing from struggle & change, 1959-1990:
- These sudden rains. Not tropical - with lightning, thunder, great release after hours of tension. But more nonchalant, more "by-the-by." As if the clouds, rushing to get somewhere else, were to drop some rain in passing.