Let Bygones Be Bygones

Meaning of Idiom ‘Let Bygones Be Bygones’

To let bygones be bygones is to forget about unpleasant things that have happened in the past; to stop holding a grudge, quarreling or seeking revenge over past actions; to forgive and forget. 1Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.,2Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.,3McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002,4Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

Examples Of Use

“It’s time we let bygones be bygones. We’ve been fighting over nothing.”

“I’m willing to forgive you and let bygones by bygones if you’re willing to do the same.”

“The two men had been bitter rivals for years after one was promoted over the other. They finally realized that neither had actually intentionally harmed the other and were able to let bygone be bygones.”

“This whole thing was a misunderstanding. Let’s shake hands and let bygones be bygones,” said Bill.

Origin

Used since the first half of the 1600s. 5Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 

A bygone, as a noun, is a thing belonging to an earlier time. A relic or something that is gone forever. The word can also be used as a noun as in ‘the bygone days of our ancestors.’ To let bygones be bygones means, then, ‘to let things of the past stay in the past.’

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
3. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002
4. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.
5. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.