by-and-by

[ bahy-uh n-bahy ]
/ ˌbaɪ ənˈbaɪ /

noun

the future: to meet in the sweet by-and-by.

Origin of by-and-by

1300–50; Middle English bi and bi one by one, at once. See by1

Definition for by and by (2 of 2)

Origin of by

1
before 900; Middle English; Old English bī; cognate with Dutch bij, Old High German (German bei), Gothic bi. See be-

Synonym study

11. By, through, with indicate agency or means of getting something done or accomplished. By is regularly used to denote the agent (person or force) in passive constructions: It is done by many; destroyed by fire. It also indicates means: Send it by airmail. With denotes the instrument (usually consciously) employed by an agent: He cut it with the scissors. Through designates particularly immediate agency or instrumentality or reason or motive: through outside aid; to yield through fear; wounded through carelessness.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for by and by (1 of 3)

by and by


adverb

presently or eventually

noun by-and-by

US and Canadian a future time or occasion

British Dictionary definitions for by and by (2 of 3)

by

1
/ (baɪ) /

preposition

adverb

noun plural byes

a variant spelling of bye 1

Word Origin for by

Old English bī; related to Gothic bi, Old High German , Sanskrit abhi to, towards

British Dictionary definitions for by and by (3 of 3)

by

2

the internet domain name for

Belarus
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

Idioms and Phrases with by and by

by and by


After a while, soon, as in She'll be along by and by. The expression probably relies on the meaning of by as a succession of quantities (as in “two by two”). This adverbial phrase came to be used as a noun, denoting either procrastination or the future. William Camden so used it for the former (Remains, 1605): “Two anons and a by and by is an hour and a half.” And W.S. Gilbert used it in the latter sense when Lady Jane sings plaintively that little will be left of her “in the coming by and by,” that is, as she grows old (Patience, 1881). [Early 1500s]

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