The Meaning of Good Riddance: What It Is and How To Use It

Ever seen the phrase “good riddance” on a crossword puzzle and wondered what it means? This guide will present you with all of the necessary information on the phrase good riddance, including its meaning, usage, sentence examples, and more!

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What does the phrase good riddance mean?

According to Dictionary, The Free Dictionary, Cambridge Dictionary, and Merriam-Webster English Dictionary amongst other English language dictionary apps, the phrase “good riddance” is considered an interjection or idiom that is used to say one is glad that someone or something is leaving or is gone. One variant of this phrase is “good riddance to bad rubbish.”

This phrase is used to refer to a “welcome departure” in which one is overjoyed that something is over. This can be used to refer to people, things, or events. People often use this phrase because the thing that is leaving is detrimental to them, and they are better off without that person or thing in their lives.

What are synonyms for the phrase good riddance?

There are very few other phrases that have the same connotation as the phrase good riddance. Most other phrases saying goodbye to someone either have a neutral or positive connotation, as people usually wish someone a pleasant goodbye, not a bad one. If one wishes to wish someone a happy goodbye instead, Power Thesaurus lists numerous examples.

  • Safe travels
  • Bon voyage
  • Fair wind
  • Godspeed
  • Farewell
  • Goodbye
  • Bye
  • Bye-bye
  • See you later
  • Sayonara
  • Hasta la vista
  • Have a good one
  • See ya

Good riddance has a very specific meaning that is not easily replicated, as one typically wishes someone a nice goodbye and would not tell them they are happy to see them go.

Where is the phrase good riddance seen in popular culture? What is the origin of the phrase good riddance?

ABC News states that the phrase good riddance originated in the William Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida which came out in 1609. However, dictionary editors state that the phrase has been in common usage since the late 1700s. Phrases states that the word riddance is now so closely associated with the phrase “good riddance” that it is rarely used on its own. 

In the 16th century, a riddance was a noun that meant a deliverance from or getting rid of something. This word was used in both William Shakepeare’s play Merchant of Venice in 1600, as well as John Rastell’s poem Away Mourning in 1525.

The first usage of the phrase “good riddance,” however is first used in Act II, Scene I of the William Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida, according to Open Source Shakespeare. In this scene, Thersites gives a dramatic exit:

Thersites: I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, ere I come any more to your tents: I will keep where there is wit stirring and leave the faction of fools.

[Thersites exits]

Patroclus: A good riddance.

Here, Patroclus rids Thersites a “good riddance” because he is happy to see him gone after his tantrum of an exit. From here, the phrase began to be used in greater popularity. 

It has remained so popular, in fact, that it is also the title of a Green Day song. According to Genius, Green Day released the song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” on their 1997 album Nimrod. The vocalist and lead guitarist of the band, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote the song after he broke up with his girlfriend who moved to Ecuador. He wrote the song as a way to express his anger about her leaving him, even though he was trying to be level-headed about the situation.

How can the phrase good riddance be used in a sentence?

Good riddance is not a very nice phrase to use to refer to a person, but it can also be used to refer to inanimate objects, actions, events, or weather. There are a few good riddance examples listed below. In this first example, Richard has just gotten off of the phone with the people who control their junk mail. He tells Steve about the conversation.

Richard: I just got off the phone with those spam email people.

Steve: And?

Richard: Good riddance to unwanted subscriptions! They put an additional spam filter on my account to block out those thousands of emails I was getting

Steve: Great!

Here, Richard uses good riddance to say a welcome goodbye to unwanted emails that were clogging up his inbox. Next, Mari and Lena are discussing a former coworker of theirs who just quit.

Lena: Mari, can I sidebar with you for a minute?

Mari: Of course. Let’s go in the women’s restroom.

Lena: Just to make sure I’m not the only one thinking it… Dave was a nimrod, right? I can’t say I’m sad he quit.

Mari: I was thinking the same thing! Good riddance! Let’s find someone who can actually do the job correctly.

Lena: Thank goodness I’m not alone in this.

Here, Mari uses good riddance to refer to their former coworker who was inept at his job. While it may not be nice, it is accurate that they are happy to see him go.

Overall, the phrase good riddance is used to say goodbye to something that one does not like. One uses this phrase when something that is detrimental or that they dislike is leaving or has gone. This is not a very nice phrase to say to a person, but it can also refer to things, events, or weather that has gone away. The phrase was first used by poet and playwright William Shakespeare.

Sources:

  1. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/good–riddance
  2. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Good+riddance!
  3. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/good-riddance
  4. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/good%20riddance
  5. https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/10-phrases-shakespeare-400-years-death/story?id=38619454#:~:text=test%20of%20time%3A-,%22Good%20Riddance%22,Green%20Day%20song%20in%201997.
  6. https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/good-riddance.html
  7. https://www.opensourceshakespeare.org/views/plays/play_view.php?WorkID=troilus&Act=2&Scene=1&Scope=scene
  8. https://genius.com/Green-day-good-riddance-time-of-your-life-lyrics