noun Informal.

a going by without notice; an intentional passing by; snub: to give one the go-by.

Origin of go-by

First recorded in 1605–15; noun use of verb phrase go by



verb (used without object), went, gone, go·ing.

to move or proceed, especially to or from something: They're going by bus.
to leave a place; depart: People were coming and going all the time.
to keep or be in motion; function or perform as required: Can't you go any faster in your work?
to become as specified: to go mad.
to continue in a certain state or condition; be habitually: to go barefoot.
to act as specified: Go warily if he wants to discuss terms.
to act so as to come into a certain state or condition: to go into debt; to go to sleep.
to be known: to go by a false name.
to reach, extend, or give access to: Where does this door go?
to pass or elapse: The time went fast.
to be applied, allotted, awarded, transferred, etc., to a particular recipient or purpose: My money goes for food and rent.
to be sold: I have a bid of two dollars. Going! Going! Gone!
to be considered generally or usually: He's short, as basketball players go.
to conduce or tend: This only goes to prove the point.
to result or end; turn out: How did the game go?
to belong; have a place: This book goes on the top shelf.
(of colors, styles, etc.) to harmonize; be compatible; be suited: Your tweed jacket would go well with these pants.
to fit around or into; be able to be extended, contained, inserted, etc.: This belt won't go around my waist.
to be or become consumed, spent, finished, etc.: The cake went fast.
to be or become discarded, dismissed, put aside, forgotten, etc.: Those practical jokes of yours have got to go!
to develop, progress, or proceed, especially with reference to success or satisfaction: How is your new job going?
to move or proceed with remarkable speed or energy: Look at that airplane go!
to make a certain sound: The gun goes bang.
to be phrased, written, or composed: How does that song go?
to seek or have recourse for a decision, verdict, corroboration, defense, etc.; resort: to go to court.
to become worn-out, weakened, ineffective, etc.: His eyesight is beginning to go.
to die: The old man went peacefully at 3 a.m.
to fail, break, or give way: The dike might go any minute.
to come into action; begin: Go when you hear the bell.
to make up a quantity or content; be requisite: Sixteen ounces go to the pound.
to be able to be divided; be contained as a mathematical element: Three goes into fifteen five times.
to contribute to an end result: the items that go to make up the total.
to have as one's goal; intend (usually used in the present tense, followed by an infinitive): Their daughter is going to be a doctor.
to be permitted, approved, or the like: Around here, anything goes.
to be authoritative; be the final word: This is my house, and what I say goes!
to subject oneself: Don't go to any trouble.
(used in the infinitive as an intensifier to indicate the idea of proceeding, especially with the expectation of serious consequences): He finally had to go ask for a loan.
Informal. to urinate or defecate.

verb (used with object), went, gone, go·ing.

Informal. to endure or tolerate: I can't go his preaching.
Informal. to risk, pay, afford, bet, or bid: I'll go fifty dollars for a ticket, but no more.
to move or proceed with or according to; follow: Going my way?
to share or participate in to the extent of (often followed by a complementary substantive): to go halves.
to yield, produce, weigh as a usable amount, or grow to: This field will go two bales of cotton.
to assume the obligation, responsibility, or function of: His father went bail for him.
Informal. to enjoy, appreciate, desire, or want: I could go a big steak dinner right now.
Informal. to say; declare (usually used in speech): I asked the clerk for my receipt, and he goes, “You don't need it.”

noun, plural goes.

the act of going: the come and go of the seasons.
energy, spirit, or animation: a man with a lot of go.
a try at something; attempt: to have a go at winning the prize.
a successful accomplishment; success: to make a go of a new business.
Informal. a business agreement; deal; bargain: Thirty dollars? It's a go.
Informal. approval or permission, as to undertake or begin something: The boss gave us the go on the new project.
Boxing. a bout: the main go.


(in calling the start of a race) start the race; leave the starting line: On your mark! Get set! Go!


functioning properly and ready: two minutes before the satellite is to be launched and all systems are go.

Verb Phrases

go about,
  1. to occupy oneself with; perform: The shoemaker goes about his work with a smile.
  2. Nautical.to change course by tacking or wearing.
go after, to attempt to obtain; strive for: You'll never get what you want if you don't go after it energetically.
go against, to be in conflict with or opposed to: It goes against the company's policy.
go ahead, to proceed without hesitation or delay: If you want to use my car, go ahead.
go along,
  1. to move or proceed.
  2. to accompany in travel.
  3. to agree; concur: I can't go along with you on that idea.
go around,
  1. to be often in company (often followed by with): to go around with a bad crowd.
  2. to be sufficient for all: Is there enough food to go around?
  3. to pass or circulate, as in transmission or communication: The rumor is going around that he was forced to resign.
go at,
  1. to assault; attack.
  2. to begin or proceed vigorously: to go at one's work with a will.
go back on. back2(def 7).
go by,
  1. to be disregarded or not taken advantage of: Don't let this chance go by.
  2. to be guided by or to rely upon: Don't go by what she says.
go down,
  1. to decrease or subside, as in amount or size: Prices went down. The swelling is going down.
  2. to descend or sink: When does the sun go down?
  3. to suffer defeat: to go down fighting.
  4. to be accepted or believed: This nonsense goes down as truth with many persons.
  5. to admit of being consumed: This food goes down easily.
  6. to be remembered in history or by posterity.
  7. Slang.to happen; occur: What's been going down since I've been away?
  8. British.to leave a university, permanently or at the end of a term.
  9. Bridge.to fall short of making one's contract.
  10. Slang: Vulgar.to perform fellatio or cunnilingus.
go for,
  1. to make an attempt at; try for: He is going for the championship.
  2. to assault.
  3. to favor; like: It simply isn't the kind of life you would go for.
  4. to be used for the purpose of or be a substitute for: material that goes for silk.
go in for,
  1. to adopt as one's particular interest; approve of; like.
  2. to occupy oneself with; engage in: Europeans in increasing numbers are going in for camping.
go into,
  1. to discuss or investigate: Let's not go into the question of whose fault it was.
  2. to undertake as one's study or work: to go into medicine.
go in with, to join in a partnership or union; combine with: He asked me to go in with him on the purchase of a boat.
go off,
  1. to explode, fire, or perform or begin to function abruptly: A gun went off in the distance.
  2. (of what has been expected or planned) to happen: The interview went off very badly.
  3. to leave, especially suddenly: She went off without saying goodbye.
  4. to die.
  5. to deteriorate.
  6. Slang.to experience orgasm.
go on,
  1. to happen or take place: What's going on here?
  2. to continue: Go on working.
  3. to behave; act: Don't go on like that!
  4. to talk effusively; chatter.
  5. (used to express disbelief): Go on, you're kidding me.
  6. to appear onstage in a theatrical performance: I go on in the middle of the second act.
go out,
  1. to come to an end, especially to fade in popularity: Silent movies went out as soon as the talkies were perfected.
  2. to cease or fail to function: The lights went out.
  3. to participate in a social activity: We usually go out drinking on Friday nights.
  4. Informal.to have a continuing romantic relationship: They went out for about a year before getting married.
  5. to take part in a strike: The printers went out yesterday in a contract dispute.
  6. Rummy.to dispose of the last card in one's hand by melding it on the table.
  7. Cards.to achieve a point score equal to or above the score necessary to win the game.
go over,
  1. to repeat; review.
  2. to be effective or successful: The proposal went over very well with the trustees.
  3. to examine: The mechanic went over the car but found nothing wrong.
  4. to read; scan.
go through,
  1. to bear; experience.
  2. to examine or search carefully: He went through all of his things but couldn't find the letter.
  3. to be successful; be accepted or approved: The proposed appropriation will never go through.
  4. to use up; spend completely: He went through his allowance in one day.
go through with, to persevere with to the end; bring to completion: It was perhaps the biggest challenge of her life, and she resolved to go through with it.
go under,
  1. to be overwhelmed or ruined; fail.
  2. (of a ship) to founder.
go up,
  1. to be in the process of construction, as a building.
  2. to increase in cost, value, etc.
  3. to forget one's lines during a theatrical performance.
  4. British.to go to a university at the beginning of a term.
go with, Informal. to have a continuing romantic relationship with; date: He went with her for two years.

Origin of go

before 900; Middle English gon, Old English gān; cognate with Old High German gēn, German gehen

Synonyms for go

Antonyms for go

1. stay.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for go by

exceed, pass, proceed, agree, comply, cooperate, follow, heed, observe

British Dictionary definitions for go by

go by

verb (intr)

to passthe cars went by; as the years go by we all get older; don't let those opportunities go by!
(preposition) to be guided byin the darkness we could only go by the stars
(preposition) to use as a basis for forming an opinion or judgmentit's wise not to go only by appearances


abbreviation for

general order



slang a deliberate snub or slight (esp in the phrase give (a person) the go-by)



verb goes, going, went or gone (mainly intr)

to move or proceed, esp to or from a point or in a certain directionto go to London; to go home
(tr; takes an infinitive, often with to omitted or replaced by and) to proceed towards a particular person or place with some specified intention or purposeI must go and get that book
to departwe'll have to go at eleven
to start, as in a race: often used in commands
to make regular journeysthis train service goes to the east coast
to operate or function effectivelythe radio won't go
(copula) to becomehis face went red with embarrassment
to make a noise as specifiedthe gun went bang
to enter into a specified state or conditionto go into hysterics; to go into action
to be or continue to be in a specified state or conditionto go in rags; to go in poverty
to lead, extend, or afford accessthis route goes to the north
to proceed towards an activityto go to supper; to go to sleep
(tr; takes an infinitive) to serve or contributethis letter goes to prove my point
to follow a course as specified; farethe lecture went badly
to be applied or allotted to a particular purpose or recipienther wealth went to her son; his money went on drink
to be sold or otherwise transferred to a recipientthe necklace went for three thousand pounds
to be ranked; comparethis meal is good as my meals go
to blend or harmonizethese chairs won't go with the rest of your furniture
(foll by by or under) to be known (by a name or disguise)
to fit or extendthat skirt won't go round your waist
to have a usual or proper placethose books go on this shelf
(of music, poetry, etc) to be sounded; expressed, etchow does that song go?
to fail or give waymy eyesight is going
to break down or collapse abruptlythe ladder went at the critical moment
to diethe old man went at 2 am
(often foll by by)
  1. (of time) to elapsethe hours go by so slowly at the office
  2. to travel pastthe train goes by her house at four
  3. to be guided (by)
to occurhappiness does not always go with riches
to be eliminated, abolished, or given upthis entry must go to save space
to be spent or finishedall his money has gone
to circulate or be transmittedthe infection went around the whole community
to attendgo to school; go to church
to join a stated professiongo to the bar; go on the stage
(foll by to) to have recourse (to); turnto go to arbitration
(foll by to) to subject or put oneself (to)she goes to great pains to please him
to proceed, esp up to or beyond certain limitsyou will go too far one day and then you will be punished
to be acceptable or toleratedanything goes in this place
to carry the weight of final authoritywhat the boss says goes
(foll by into) to be contained infour goes into twelve three times
(often foll by for) to endure or last outwe can't go for much longer without water in this heat
(tr) cards to bet or bidI go two hearts
(tr) informal, mainly US to have as one's weightI went 112 pounds a year ago
US and Canadian (usually used in commands takes an infinitive without to)
  1. to start to act so as togo shut the door
  2. to leave so as togo blow your brains out
informal to perform well; be successfulthat group can really go
(tr) not standard to say: widely used, esp in the historic present, in reporting dialogueThen she goes, ``Give it to me!'' and she just snatched it
go and informal to be so foolish or unlucky as tothen she had to go and lose her hat
be going to intend or be about to start (to do or be doing something): often used as an alternative future constructionwhat's going to happen to us?
go ape slang to become crazy, enraged, or out of control
go ape over slang to become crazy or extremely enthusiastic about
go astray to be mislaid; go missing
go bail to act as surety
go bush See bush 1 (def. 14)
go halves See half (def. 15)
go hard (often foll by with) to cause trouble or unhappiness (to)
go it slang to do something or move energetically
go it alone informal to act or proceed without allies or help
go much on informal to approve of or be in agreement with (something): usually used in the negativeI don't go much on the idea
go one better informal to surpass or outdo (someone)
go the whole hog informal See hog (def. 9)
let go
  1. to relax one's hold (on); release
  2. euphemisticto dismiss (from employment)
  3. to discuss or consider no further
let oneself go
  1. to act in an uninhibited manner
  2. to lose interest in one's appearance, manners, etc
to go
  1. remaining
  2. US and Canadian informal(of food served by a restaurant) for taking away

noun plural goes

the act of going
  1. an attempt or tryhe had a go at the stamp business
  2. an attempt at stopping a person suspected of a crimethe police are not always in favour of the public having a go
  3. an attack, esp verbalshe had a real go at them
a turnit's my go next
informal the quality of being active and energeticshe has much more go than I
informal hard or energetic workit's all go
informal a successful venture or achievementhe made a go of it
informal a bout or attack (of an illness)he had a bad go of flu last winter
informal an unforeseen, usually embarrassing or awkward, turn of eventshere's a rum go
informal a bargain or agreement
all the go informal very popular; in fashion
from the word go informal from the very beginning
no go informal impossible; abortive or futileit's no go, I'm afraid
on the go informal active and energetic


(postpositive) informal functioning properly and ready for action: esp used in astronauticsall systems are go

Word Origin for go

Old English gān; related to Old High German gēn, Greek kikhanein to reach, Sanskrit jahāti he forsakes





a game for two players in which stones are placed on a board marked with a grid, the object being to capture territory on the board

Word Origin for go

from Japanese
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 go by



1727, "action of going," from go (v.). The sense of "a try or turn at something" is from 1825; meaning "something that goes, a success" is from 1876. Phrase on the go "in constant motion" is from 1843.



Old English gan "to go, advance, depart; happen; conquer; observe," from West Germanic *gai-/*gæ- (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian gan, Middle Dutch gaen, Dutch gaan, Old High German gan, German gehen), from PIE *ghe- "to release, let go" (cf. Sanskrit jihite "goes away," Greek kikhano "I reach, meet with"), but there is not general agreement on cognates.

The Old English past tense was eode, of uncertain origin but evidently once a different word (perhaps connected to Gothic iddja); it was replaced 1400s by went, formerly past tense of wenden "to direct one's way" (see wend). In northern England and Scotland, however, eode tended to be replaced by gaed, a construction based on go. In modern English, only be and go take their past tenses from entirely different verbs.

The word in its various forms and combinations takes up 45 columns of close print in the OED. Verbal meaning "say" emerged 1960s in teen slang. Colloquial meaning "urinate or defecate" attested by 1926. Go for broke is from 1951, American English colloquial; go down on "perform oral sex on" is from 1916. That goes without saying (1878) translates French cela va sans dire. As an adjective, "in order," from 1951, originally in aerospace jargon.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with go by

go by


Elapse, pass, as in the popular song, “As Time Goes By” (by Herman Hupfeld, 1931), or He just went by our house. [c. 1600]


Ignore, fail to notice or take advantage of, as in You shouldn't let this opportunity go by. [Early 1500s] For the related go by the board, see by the board.


Rely on, believe, as in I'm going by the numbers on this list, or We'll have to go by what she tells us.


go by the name of. Be known by or use a specific name. For example, She continued to go by her maiden name, Mary Smith. [Late 1500s]

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