What does “Let Bygones Be Bygones” Mean?

Discover the meaning and origins of the phrase "Let Bygones Be Bygones." Learn how it encourages forgiveness and moving on from past conflicts. Find examples and synonyms!

Understanding “Let Bygones Be Bygones”

“Let Bygones Be Bygones” is a common English idiom that means to forgive and forget past wrongs or disagreements.

It is often used to encourage people to move on from a conflict and not hold grudges.

Origins and Etymology

The phrase “bygones” originates from the Middle English word “bigon” which means “that which has gone by.” The phrase “let bygones be bygones” first appeared in the 16th century and was used to encourage people to let go of past grievances.

Is “Let Bygones Be Bygones” and “By Leaps and Bounds” Similar in Meaning?

While both phrases employ the word “by,” their meanings diverge. Understanding “by leaps and bounds” refers to rapid and significant progress.

In contrast, “let bygones be bygones” advocates for forgiving past grievances.

They share a structure but guide distinct paths of human experience.

Modern Usage

Today, “let bygones be bygones” is commonly used in personal and professional settings.

For example, if two friends have had an argument, one may say to the other, “Let’s just let bygones be bygones and move on.” Similarly, a manager may use the phrase to encourage employees to forget past mistakes and focus on moving forward.

Here are three example sentences that use the idiom:

  • After their argument, John and Sarah decided to let bygones be bygones and continue their friendship.
  • The company’s CEO urged the board of directors to let bygones be bygones and work together to improve the company’s performance.
  • Mary and her sister had a falling out, but eventually decided to let bygones be bygones and reconcile.

Here are three synonyms of the idiom:

  • Forget the past and move on
  • Forgive and forget
  • Put the past behind