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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English farewel, from fare wel! (and the variants with the personal pronoun "fare you well" and "fare ye well" used in the Renaissance), an imperative expression, possibly further derived from Old English *far wel!, equivalent to fare (to fare, travel, journey) +‎ well. Compare Scots farewele, fairweill (farewell), Saterland Frisian Foarwäil (farewell), West Frisian farwol (farewell), German Fahrwol,Fahrwohl, East Frisian forwal[1], Dutch vaarwel (farewell (sadly)), Danish farvel (farewell), Norwegian farvel (farewell), Swedish farväl (farewell), Faroese farvæl (goodbye), Icelandic far vel (farewell). The extensive list of cognates suggests a postulated ultimate Proto-Germanic phrase of origin, possibly something akin to *far wela.



farewell (plural farewells)

  1. A wish of happiness or safety at parting, especially a permanent departure
    Synonyms: goodbye, adieu
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 5, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      The departure was not unduly prolonged. [] Within the door Mrs. Spoker hastily imparted to Mrs. Love a few final sentiments on the subject of Divine Intention in the disposition of buckets; farewells and last commiserations; a deep, guttural instigation to the horse; and the wheels of the waggonette crunched heavily away into obscurity.
    • 1960 November, L. Hyland, “The Irish Scene”, in Trains Illustrated, page 691:
      The last train—a three-coach A.E.C. unit—from Belfast to Crumlin and back, was bade farewell with fog signals as it carried a capacity crowd of last-trip travellers.
  2. A departure; the act of leaving



farewell (not comparable)

  1. Parting, valedictory, final.
    a farewell discourse;  the band's farewell tour
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter I, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, →OCLC:
      “I'm through with all pawn-games,” I laughed. “Come, let us have a game of lansquenet. Either I will take a farewell fall out of you or you will have your sevenfold revenge”.
    • 1858, John Saunders, Westland Marston, The National Magazine, volume 3, page 133:
      But with the first gray light of dawn he arose; and before drawing the white sheet veilingly over, he took a last farewell look at that angel face.




  1. Goodbye.
    He said "Farewell!" and left.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IV”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      So farewell hope, and with hope, farewell fear.
    • 1786 July 31, Robert Burns, “On a Scotch Bard Gone to the West Indies”, in Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire: Printed by John Wilson, →OCLC; reprinted Kilmarnock: James McKie, March 1867, →OCLC, page 184:
      Fareweel, my rhyme-compoſing billie!
      Your native ſoil was right ill-willie;
      But may ye flouriſh like a lily,
      Now bonilie!
      I'll toaſt ye in my hindmoſt gillie,
      Tho' owre the Sea!



farewell (third-person singular simple present farewells, present participle farewelling, simple past and past participle farewelled)

  1. To bid farewell or say goodbye.
    • 2009 February 9, Neil Wilson and staff writers, “Tributes for newsman Brian Naylor and wife, killed in fires”, in Herald Sun[2], archived from the original on 11 February 2009:
      He farewelled viewers with a warm sign-off after each bulletin: "May your news be good news, and goodnight."


Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ Entry "forwal" from the East Frisian dictionary https://oostfraeisk.org/main.aspx?W=forwal&df=frs&fts=J
  2. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1909) A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles (Sammlung germanischer Elementar- und Handbücher; 9)‎[1], volume I: Sounds and Spellings, London: George Allen & Unwin, published 1961, § 4.37, page 125.