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Lost for good

Posted by Smokey Stover on May 26, 2008 at 15:03

In Reply to: Lost for good posted by ESC on May 26, 2008 at 14:33:

: : What is the origin of "Lost for good"?

: I think the question is, when and why did "for good" and "for good and all" come to mean permanently, forever.

I'm not sure I would have said permanently, although that is very often the case. I would have said, "for sure, definitely, seriously, possibly forever."

The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have pondered the same question, and this is their definition:

"f. for good (and all): as a valid conclusion; hence, as a final act, finally." They cite examples from the 16th century onward, but, as is their wont, do not explain why "for good" has come to have this meaning, beyond what you can read into "as a valid conclusion." A few examples:

"15--. Parlement of Byrdes Aij, Than desyred al the Byrdes great and smal to mewe the hauke for good and all. 1603 in Crt. & Times Jas. I I. 25 D' gone for good and all. 1687 CONGREVE Old Bach. I. i, Ay, you may take him for good-and-all if you will. 1711 SWIFT Jrnl. to Stella 4 July, This day I left Chelsea for good, (that's a genteel phrase). . . ."