The Meaning of Adieu: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It?

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Learning new words is tons of fun! Come along as we learn about the word adieu, its origin, history, and synonyms. 

What Is the Definition of Adieu? 

Adieu is a cheerful way to say goodbye. It’s a bit more flashy than your normal “see ya later” or “bye-bye,” making it a useful term to know and use. According to the English Dictionary, the definition of adieu is an interjection phrase, and it means goodbye or farewell. The plural for adieu is adieux (a·dieus)

What Is the Origin of Adieu? 

Adieu was first recorded around 1325 to 1375 from Middle English and Middle French. Words that are commonly confused with adieu are Ado and A deux — but these words do not have the same meanings. 

What Does Adieu Mean? 

Adieu is a French word of French origin but was eventually adopted into the English language. Adieu means a farewell or goodbye. In the past, it was seen as a “fond farewell” or permanent goodbye. 

It wasn’t said unless the person departing was planning to be gone indefinitely or forever. When someone passed away, people did not say bye; they said adieu. 

Since adieu is a synonym for goodbye, we think it’s fitting to analyze the origins and etymology of goodbye and uncover why we say it in the first place. 

Before saying goodbye, English speakers would say, “God be with you.” It wasn’t until the 16th century that the word goodbye was coined.

Words and terms are always evolving, and goodbye is one of those changing terms. There are tons of ways to say goodbye just in English alone. Yes, the evolution of goodbye isn’t quite as dramatic as other words, but that’s not to say it isn’t interesting. 

The makings of adieu started with the word goodbye, and the first usage of this word was recorded in 1573. Goodbye was seen in a letter written by an English writer and scholar, Gabriel Harvey. Goodbye was originally “God be with you,” but since other phrases like “good evening” and “good morning” were so commonly used, goodbye seemed much more fitting. 

Christianity and religion, in general, were more prevalent and publicly spoken about during those times, so saying something like “God be with you” to a stranger wouldn’t have been considered odd at all. Today, it may be looked at differently or even considered inappropriate. 

Why Do We Say Goodbye? 

It’s considered polite or well-mannered to greet someone when you see them, and the same goes for wishing someone a farewell when you leave. The practice of saying goodbye goes back centuries. 

People in the 16th century didn’t have smartphones, email, or instant messaging, so their means of communication were much different. They didn’t know when they would speak to someone next, and — besides letters — communication could only be done verbally, face-to-face. 

Saying goodbye or god be with you was a way to give a sincere send-off and wish loved ones safe travels and good health. 

Synonyms of Adieu

As time progressed, saying goodbye became less serious and more cursory. Rarely was “God be with you” used after the word goodbye was coined —- from goodbye, many other terms were coined, giving you endless choices in how you wish farewell to your friends and family. 

Let’s talk about all the other ways you can say goodbye. We’ve taken a look at a thesaurus and have explanations of all the synonyms of the word adieu!


Bye-bye is a more casual or light-hearted farewell remark. If someone was just stepping out for a second, you would say bye-bye, or you know you’ll see them shortly. 

Bye-bye has quite the evolution as well. Before it was another term for adieu, it was used as a soothing chanting or song to hush crying babies back to bed.

Bye-bye is very common and is sometimes pronounced or spelled “Buh-bye.” 


While adios is a Spanish word, it is commonly used by English speakers. Adios is a fun and playful way to say goodbye. While this may be the only Spanish word you know, we wouldn’t be surprised if you use it often too. 

The first account of this word is around 1830 to 1840, and this word means “to god.”


While this word once had a more serious tone, people have since taken a more casual approach to its usage. Rarely do you see English speakers using this term in a non-playful or sarcastic manner. 

Farewell doesn’t just mean goodbye. The word farewell also means “to go, travel, experience” well. 

This word originally had a more serious tone as it was a way to wish someone safe travels on a long adventure. Since there were no phones or ways to communicate, the goodbye had to be proper and heart-felt. 

See You Later

See you later is a way to say goodbye to someone who you will see in the very near future. The word itself is quite self-explanatory. Even though goodbye isn’t technically necessary in an instance like this, it’s still polite to say something before departing or leaving a room. 

This term is commonly used over text as “cya” or “c ya.” 

Good Day

“Good day” is a fun and unique way of expressing good wishes upon departure. It is also a way to greet someone. Normally it’s considered old-fashioned or formal, but it can also be used casually.

Au Revoir

Au revoir is an old French word meaning goodbye.


Cheerio is a greeting and farewell interchangeably. You can expect it to be used in an upbeat, casual manner. 


This informal way of saying farewell is commonly used in English, despite its Japanese origin.

Auf Wiedersehen

Auf wiedersehen means see you again in German.


Arrivederci is Italian for until we meet again — a creative twist on goodbye or adieu.

The Takeaway

We hope you found the history and evolution of goodbye and adieu as interesting as us. Now you have tons of ways to wish your loved ones farewell. 


ADIOS | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary

GOODBYE | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary