[bahy-gawn, -gon]


past; gone by; earlier; former: The faded photograph brought memories of bygone days.


Usually bygones. that which is past: Let's not talk of bygones.


    let bygones be bygones, to decide to forget past disagreements; become reconciled: Let's let bygones be bygones and be friends again.

Origin of bygone

1375–1425; late Middle English (north) by-gane; see gone, by1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bygones

Contemporary Examples of bygones

  • Many seem to agree with the government that we should just let bygones by bygones.

  • But Lieberman's call to let bygones be bygones rings as hollow as his promise to draw troops down from Iraq.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Lieberman's Empty Promises

    Jane Hamsher

    November 10, 2008

Historical Examples of bygones

  • He gave me a great deal of trouble—but there, let bygones be bygones!

    A Hero of Our Time

    M. Y. Lermontov

  • But, considerin' that I got this horn from Mr. Bangs, I'm willin' to let bygones be past.

    Cy Whittaker's Place

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Who can sympathize with bygones when he is counting the minutes that are to make him one of them?

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • I don't talk of these things; they are bygones, and I 'd as soon forget them.

  • And under the circumstances we are quite willing to let bygones be bygones.

    Dave Porter At Bear Camp

    Edward Stratemeyer

British Dictionary definitions for bygones



(usually prenominal) past; former


(often plural) a past occurrence
(often plural) an artefact, implement, etc, of former domestic or industrial use, now often collected for interest
let bygones be bygones to agree to forget past quarrels
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 bygones

"things that are past," especially offenses, 1560s, from plural of noun use of bygone (q.v.).



early 15c., from by (adv.) + gone. Cf. similar construction of aforesaid. As a noun from 1560s (see bygones).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with bygones


see let bygones be bygones.

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