by and by, in a short time; before long; presently: The clouds will disappear by and by.
    by and large, in general; on the whole: By and large, there is much to be said for the new system.
    by the by. bye1(def 6).

Origin of by

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.



noun Also by.

Sports. in a tournament, the preferential status of a player or team not paired with a competitor in an early round and thus automatically advanced to play in the next round: The top three seeded players received byes in the first round.
Golf. the holes of a stipulated course still unplayed after the match is finished.
Cricket. a run made on a ball not struck by the batsman.
something subsidiary, secondary, or out of the way.


Origin of bye

1710–20; variant spelling of by1 in its noun sense “side way” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for byes

adieu, adios, arrivederci, bye-bye, cheerio, sayonara

Examples from the Web for byes

Historical Examples of byes

British Dictionary definitions for byes




used to indicate the agent after a passive verbseeds eaten by the birds
used to indicate the person responsible for a creative workthis song is by Schubert
via; throughenter by the back door
followed by a gerund to indicate a means usedhe frightened her by hiding behind the door
beside; next to; neara tree by the house
passing the position of; pasthe drove by the old cottage
not later than; beforereturn the books by Tuesday
used to indicate extent, after a comparativeit is hotter by five degrees than it was yesterday
(esp in oaths) invoking the name ofI swear by all the gods
multiplied byfour by three equals twelve
(in habitual sentences) during the passing of (esp in the phrases by day, by night)
placed between measurements of the various dimensions of somethinga plank fourteen inches by seven


nearthe house is close by
away; asidehe put some money by each week for savings
passing a point near something; pasthe drove by
Scot past; over and done withthat's a' by now
Scot aside; behind oneyou must put that by you

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



the internet domain name for





sport the situation in which a player or team in an eliminatory contest wins a preliminary round by virtue of having no opponent
golf one or more holes of a stipulated course that are left unplayed after the match has been decided
cricket a run scored off a ball not struck by the batsman: allotted to the team as an extra and not to the individual batsmanSee also leg bye
something incidental or secondary
by the bye incidentally; by the way: used as a sentence connector

Word Origin for bye

C16: a variant of by




sentence substitute

British informal goodbye
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 byes



Old English be- (unstressed) or bi (stressed) "near, in, by, during, about," from Proto-Germanic *bi "around, about" (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian bi "by near," Middle Dutch bie, Dutch bij, German bei "by, at, near," Gothic bi "about"), from *umbi (cognate with second element in PIE *ambhi "around," cf. Sanskrit abhi "toward, to," Greek amphi- "around, about;" see ambi-).

Originally an adverbial particle of place, in which sense it is retained in place names (Whitby, Grimsby, etc.). Elliptical use for "secondary course" (opposed to main; e.g. byway, also cf. by-blow "illegitimate child," 1590s) was in Old English. This also is the sense of the second by in the phrase by the by (1610s). By the way literally means "in passing by" (mid-14c.); used figuratively to introduce a tangential observation by 1540s.

Phrase by and by (early 14c.) originally meant "one by one," modern sense is from 1520s. By and large (1660s) originally was nautical, "sailing to the wind and off it," hence "in one direction then another."



in sporting use, a variant of by (prep). Originally in cricket, "a run scored on a ball that is missed by the wicket-keeper" (1746); later, in other sports, "position of one who is left without a competitor when the rest have drawn pairs" (1883), originally in lawn-tennis.



shortened form of good-bye. Reduplication bye-bye is recorded from 1709, though as a sound used to lull a child to sleep it is attested from 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper