"Goodbye" is an exclamation used to express good wishes when parting ways or at the end of a conversation.
"Goodbye Wally! See you next week."
In general, it is common practice and considered polite that you do not just say "goodbye" or "bye" - this can seem a little abrupt and even rude.
Native speakers will often include other phrases that indicate they have to leave, that expresses a desire to see the other person again, to wish the other person to have a pleasant time, or that they should take care of themselves, etc.
So a farewell will often include a series of expressions before they finally part ways. And occasionally this could drag on for a while.
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Other ways to say "goodbye"
"Bye" and "bye-bye" - informal versions of "goodbye."
It is usually used in the same way as "goodbye," but for more casual settings.
"It was nice meeting you but I really have to go."
- "Yes, it was nice to meet you too. Bye!"
"Hooroo" (Australian Eng) - informal way of saying "goodbye."
This is more common with older Australians than young adults.
"Hooroo! See you soon!"
"Cheers" (British Eng) - informal exclamation that is quite popular here in Australia.
This is also said before drinking an alcoholic drink, and is often used to mean "thank you."
"I'll let you know how I go with the exam. Cheers."
"Aloha" - Hawaiian word for welcome and goodbye.
This is not commonly used in Australia, but it is well-known.
"Peace out" or "peace" - slang terms used to mean goodbye.
They are often accompanied by a peace sign hand gesture. This is quite a popular way of ending videos on YouTube but not commonly used in person or over the phone.
"Don't forget to like and subscribe. Peace out!"
"Good night" - used as a farewell in the evening or at the end of the day, or before going to bed or to sleep.
"Night" is an informal version of this.
"Good night. I'll see you in the morning."
"Toodle-oo" or "toodles" - informal, old-fashioned exclamations that mean goodbye.
When I was looking this up, I could not find this British dictionaries. However, I found this in American dictionaries that claimed it was mainly British.
"Ta-ta" is another informal British English exclamation.
This is not common in Australia but apparently is still commonly used in parts of the UK and America.
"Let's catch up again soon."
- "Yes, let's. I'll message you when I get back. Ta-ta."
"Ta-ta" should not be confused with "ta-tas" (American Eng) which means "breasts."
And "ta" (British & Australian Eng) means "thank you."
"Farewell" - very formal and a little old-fashioned that means goodbye.
I tend to hear this used in period shows, or on cards and formal writing.
In comparison to "goodbye," it sounds more dramatic and implies you expect not see the person again - like a final goodbye. One could even use this to be overly dramatic or sarcastic.
"Farewell my good friend! I shall miss you sorely."
- "Yes, yes Wally. I'll see you next week."
"Cheerio" - a British English exclamation, but is considered old-fashioned.
This is more common in period shows or literature.
"Good day" - can be used as both a farewell and a greeting, particularly when it's during the day.
This is considered old-fashioned and I tend to hear this more often in period TV shows or movies.
"G'day" - a more common informal version for Australian English. However, this is only used as a greeting, not as a farewell.
"So long" - informal, idiomatic expression that means goodbye.
It is also considered old-fashioned and this is not that commonly used nowadays.
"Adieu" - an old French word that means goodbye.
This is really old-fashioned and I would only hear this in period shows and literature.
Different expressions as farewells
"Take care (of yourself)" - an informal, idiomatic phrase that means goodbye.
Depending on the relationship and context, it can be used to imply genuine care and good vibes - although this is not always the case.
"Bye Eve, take care."
- "Bye-bye, see you soon."
"Look after yourself" - a British expression used to say goodbye to someone you know well.
"We should catch up again soon. Have a good one."
- "For sure. Look after yourself."
"Pleased to meet you" - a polite greeting but can be used as a farewell after you meet someone for the first time - you would typically use the past tense if you add the subject.
Instead of "pleased," you can also use other words and add adverbs. Bear in mind however, using words like "lovely" or using strong adverbs can come across as too affectionate if you met the person for the first time.
"Delighted to meet you."
"So glad to meet you."
"It was a real pleasure to meet you."
You can also change it to a gerund. Here, you can use either the past or present tense with the subject.
"It's a pleasure meeting you."
- "Yes, it was nice meeting you too."
"Nice to see you" - a phrase used to greet someone you already know but can also be used as a farewell after your meeting.
You can use the past or present tense with the subject, use other words, add adverbs, or change it to a gerund.
"So good to see you."
"I'm glad to see you again."
"It was real nice seeing you again."
"See you later" - an informal, and casual way of saying goodbye.
"Later" would imply that you expect to see them some time later, however this is commonly used when you are not sure when and if you will meet them again.
Variations of this include: "see you," "later," "I'll see you later," "I'll be seeing you," "see you around/round," "see you next time," "see you soon," "see you sometime," and "see you when I see you."
If you are going to see the person in a definite time later, examples can include "see you tonight," "see you tomorrow," "see you next week," "see you next year," etc.
"Well, that wraps up our meeting. Don't forget to return the pens and I'll see you later."
"Catch you later" - another, more casual version of "see you later."
This is something I usually use at the end of my videos.
"Have a good day and I'll catch you later."
"Talk to you later" and "talk/chat soon" - phrases often used over the phone that mean goodbye.
"Anyway, I have to head off to my doctor's appointment."
- "All right, talk soon!"
"Smell you/ya later" - more informal, and humorous way of saying "see you later."
"See you later alligator" - a rhyming catchphrase among children and teenagers in the 50s. The expected response is "in/after a while crocodile."
This is also the title of a popular rock-and-roll song by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1955.
This is not that commonly used nowadays but it is a well-known expression among native speakers as a cute, fun way of saying "see you later."
Variations include "see you later gator," and "later gator."
"Hasta la vista" is an informal Spanish phrase that means "see you later."
"Hasta la vista, baby" became a catchphrase popularised by Terminator 2: Judgment Day, back in 1991.
People might quote this as a cultural or movie reference rather than actually saying goodbye.
"See you again" - the title of a popular song by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth. This song commemorated the passing of Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident.
The phrase "see you again" is a way of saying that they look forward to reuniting or catching up with Walker in the afterlife.
This could be an expression of farewell but most people would just say "see you later" or "see you soon."
"See you in my dreams" - this is not an expression of farewell even though I came across this expression while I was compiling this vocabulary list.
If someone said this to me, it would sound lewd and just nasty.
There is another song, "I'll see you in my dreams," by Bruce Springsteen. The phrase used in this song however, is another way of saying that he looks forward to reuniting in the afterlife.
"Goodbye for now" and "bye for now" - are expressions that mean "see you later." They also imply that you expect to see the person again in the future.
This is not that common here in Australia.
"I have to rush to my next appointment. Well, goodbye for now."
"Bye now" is a similar expression but there are some disagreements online about whether this is considered rude or not.
Some believe this is an shortened version of "bye for now." Others think it sounds like an abrupt end to a conversation and somewhat rude. And then there are some that think it depends on your tone.
I'm not really sure to be honest - this is not an expression that I personally use. So using this is up to you.
"(Good-bye) until then" - good-bye until sometime in the future. This is very similar to "see you later" and "goodbye for now."
Variations include "(good-bye) till then," "(good-bye) till later," and "(good-bye) until later."
This is not something I hear often in Australia.
"Have a nice day" - a common expression used to mean that you wish the person you spoke to will experience a pleasant day.
You can change the adjective and say: "have a pleasant day," or "have a great day," etc.
This phrase is associated with the retail industry and can come across as fake and insincere in different parts of the world - there is a whole Wikipedia page about the culture of "have a nice day."
Anyway, it is a polite expression. However, this is not an expression that I hear often in Australia.
"Have a good day/one" - another way of saying "have a nice day."
This is more popular in Australia, and sounds more sincere and a bit more down to earth.
Variations include parts of the day or week:
- "Have a good morning/afternoon/evening."
- "Have a good week/weekend."
"Don't forget to submit your assignments. Have a good one and I'll see you after the break."
Other expressions said with farewells
These are polite expressions that do not mean "goodbye," but are often said in addition to saying goodbye.
There are many expressions you can say with goodbyes, but these are some common examples.
"Love you" - an expression of affection, usually said to loved ones.
This should not be used this with acquaintances or colleagues.
"Talk to you tomorrow. Love you."
- "Love you. Bye."
"Take it easy" - an informal, idiomatic expression that means goodbye, but also to encourage the other person to rest and relax.
"That's it for this week. Take it easy and see you Monday."
"Behave yourself" or "be good" - informal expressions to tell someone to behave well or stay out of trouble, often used in a humorous way.
"That's the boarding call. I gotta go. Bye-bye!"
- "Bye! Have a safe trip and behave yourself."
"Send/give my regards to (someone)" - a polite and formal expression used to convey good wishes to a person close to the one you are talking to.
This would usually be said to someone that you do not see often or have not seen for a while - someone you would consider an acquaintance.
"Say hello/hi to (someone)" - a more casual versions of "send my regards."
"It was nice seeing you again."
- "It was nice seeing you too. Please send my regards to Eve."
"Have a good trip and say hi to Wally for me."
- "Thanks and I will. See you when I get back."
"Send/give my love to (someone)" - a more intimate version of "send my regards."
I would use this for loved ones I have not seen for a while.
"I have to go, Mum. I'll call you next week."
- "Okay. Send my love to the kids for me."
Expressions to say that you are leaving
These are common expressions usually used to say that you are leaving or have to leave - so these are not the same as saying "goodbye."
These are used to bring a conversation to an end but are sometimes used to indicate that you do not have time to start a conversation.
"I had better be going" - a polite way and maybe less casual way of saying that you should start leaving and be on your way.
"I had better be off" and "I had better get moving" - more informal versions of the same meaning.
"We had better be going before it gets too late."
"I'd better be off. Thank you so much for the lovely dinner."
"I have to go/leave" or "I should go/leave" can come across as somewhat abrupt, and imply that you should leave because the current situation is awkward and you want to leave right away.
"Did you hear? She got promoted because she's been sleeping with the boss."
- "Err, I should leave."
"I gotta go" - a shortened, informal version of "I have got to go."
"Gotta" is a shortened, informal version of "have got to." This can be used in a variety of different sentences with this particular phrase.
This is used to say that you have to leave - usually when you are rushing to another appointment. This may seem abrupt and somewhat harsh, but this is a very common and acceptable way of announcing one's departure.
Variations of this are "gotta go," and "I've gotta go."
"I gotta go or I'll miss the bus."
"I know this is very important and all but I've really gotta go now."
Other expressions that mean the same thing include:
"I gotta bounce"
"I gotta hit the road"
"I gotta head out"
"I gotta split"
"I gotta run" - has the same meaning as "I gotta go."
To me however, this implies more urgency and that you should leave immediately.
"Sorry, can't talk. Gotta run."
"I gotta get going" - means you have to start to leave and be on your way.
Variations include "I have to get going," "I've got to get going," "I should get going," and "I must get going."
"I gotta take off" has the same meaning.
"We should get going. The concert's going to start in half an hour."
"I gotta take off soon. You have 5 minutes. What do you want?"
"I'm out" - a slang term that means "I'm leaving."
This is usually said at the time or moment of leaving and is more abrupt than the previous expressions mentioned.
This expression can also mean that one is officially breaking up with someone else.
"It's 5pm and I'm out."