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Let bygones be bygones

Posted by Smokey Stover on October 19, 2008 at 01:34

In Reply to: Let bygones be bygones posted by Bob Haselbeck on October 18, 2008 at 10:51:

: What is the origin of the phrase "let bygones be bygones"?

It is easy to imagine someone saying this in the same meaning as "Let sleeping dogs lie," or "Let past things remain in the past." The first citation of the phrase in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1638.

"1636 RUTHERFORD Lett. lxii. I. 166 Pray..that byegones betwixt me and my Lord may be byegones. . . ."

Another interesting citation in their list is that of Lord Chesterfield,

"1758 CHESTERFIELD Lett. IV. 147 By-gones are by-gones, as Chartres, when he was dying, said of his sins."

I don't know which Chartres may have said this. There are a fair number of invidivuals having this name, but my short survey has not revealed who may have said this on his death-bed.