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so long

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interjection Informal.
  1. goodbye: I said so long and left.

Origin of so long

An Americanism dating back to 1840–50
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for so long

Historical Examples

  • "So-long, boys," was a not infrequent remark as the noose tightened.

    The Story of the Outlaw

    Emerson Hough

  • Carson climbed into the engine-cab, with a shout: “So-long bhoy!”

    'Firebrand' Trevison

    Charles Alden Seltzer

  • “So-long, kid,” he called, as his head sank to the level of the sidewalk.

    Vistas of New York

    Brander Matthews

  • As we parted he amused us by saluting and saying "Well, so-long!"

    The Fortunate Isles

    Mary Stuart Boyd

  • "So-long, Davey," the Schoolmaster called from the verandah.

    The Pioneers

    Katharine Susannah Prichard


British Dictionary definitions for so long

so long

sentence substitute
  1. informal farewell; goodbye
adverb
  1. Southern African slang for the time being; meanwhile
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for so long

interj.

parting salutation, 1860, of unknown origin, perhaps from a German idiom (cf. German parting salutation adieu so lange, the full sense of which probably is something like "farewell, whilst (we're apart)"); or perhaps from Hebrew shalom (via Yiddish sholom). Some have noted a similarity to Scandinavian leave-taking phrases, cf. Norwegian Adjø så lenge, Farvel så lenge, Mor'n så lenge, literally "bye so long, farewell so long, morning so long;" and Swedish Hej så länge "good-bye for now," with så länge "for now" attested since 1850 according to Swedish sources. Most etymology sources seem to lean toward the German origin.

Earlier guesses that it was a sailors' corruption of a South Pacific form of Arabic salaam are not now regarded as convincing. "Dictionary of American Slang" also adds to the list of candidates Irish slán "safe," said to be used as a salutation in parting. The phrase seems to have turned up simultaneously in America, Britain, and perhaps Canada, originally among lower classes. First attested use is in title and text of the last poem in Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" in the 1860 edition.

An unknown sphere, more real than I dream'd, more direct, darts awakening rays about me -- So long!
Remember my words -- I may again return,
I love you -- I depart from materials;
I am as one disembodied, triumphant, dead.

Whitman's friend and fan William Sloane Kennedy, wrote in 1923:

The salutation of parting -- 'So long!' -- was, I believe, until recent years, unintelligible to the majority of persons in America, especially in the interior, and to members of the middle and professional classes. I had never heard of it until I read it in Leaves of Grass, but since then have quite often heard it used by the laboring class and other classes in New England cities. Walt wrote to me, defining 'so long' thus: "A salutation of departure, greatly used among sailors, sports, & prostitutes -- the sense of it is 'Till we meet again,' -- conveying an inference that somehow they will doubtless so meet, sooner or later." ... It is evidently about equivalent to our 'See you later.' The phrase is reported as used by farm laborers near Banff, Scotland. In Canada it is frequently heard; 'and its use is not entirely confined to the vulgar.' It is in common use among the working classes of Liverpool and among sailors at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and in Dorsetshire. ... The London Globe suggests that the expression is derived from the Norwegian 'Saa laenge,' a common form of 'farewell,' au revoir. If so, the phrase was picked up from the Norwegians in America, where 'So long' first was heard. The expression is now (1923) often used by the literary and artistic classes.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with so long

so long

Good-bye, as in So long, we'll see you next week. The allusion here is puzzling; long presumably means “a long time” and perhaps the sense is “until we meet again after a long time,” but the usage has no such implication. [Colloquial; first half of 1800s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.