Adieu vs. Au Revoir

What's the Difference?

Adieu and Au Revoir are both French expressions used to bid farewell, but they differ in their level of formality and the sentiment conveyed. "Adieu" is a more formal and final farewell, often used when parting ways indefinitely or when there is a sense of permanence to the separation. It carries a slightly more emotional tone, implying a deeper and more heartfelt goodbye. On the other hand, "Au Revoir" is a more casual and temporary farewell, commonly used in everyday situations. It conveys the idea of "until we meet again" and suggests a hope for future encounters. While both expressions serve the purpose of saying goodbye, the choice between "Adieu" and "Au Revoir" depends on the context and the relationship between the individuals involved.


AttributeAdieuAu Revoir
FormalityMore formalLess formal
UsageCommonly used in FrenchCommonly used in French
EmotionCan convey a deeper sense of finality or sadnessGenerally neutral
EtymologyDerived from the phrase "à Dieu vous commant" (I commend you to God)Derived from the phrase "au plaisir de vous revoir" (until the pleasure of seeing you again)

Further Detail


When bidding farewell in the French language, two commonly used expressions are "Adieu" and "Au Revoir." While both phrases convey the idea of saying goodbye, they possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the nuances and differences between these two phrases, examining their origins, usage, and cultural connotations.

Origins and Meanings

The phrase "Adieu" originates from the Old French word "adiu," which means "to God." It carries a more profound and final connotation, often implying a permanent farewell or separation. "Adieu" is typically used when parting ways with someone for an extended period or when the farewell is expected to be the last encounter.

On the other hand, "Au Revoir" translates to "until we see each other again" or "goodbye for now." It is a more casual and temporary way of bidding farewell, suggesting that the separation is not permanent and that the individuals will likely meet again in the future. The phrase "Au Revoir" is commonly used in everyday situations, such as leaving work, school, or social gatherings.

Usage and Context

While both "Adieu" and "Au Revoir" are used to say goodbye, their contexts and appropriate usage differ. "Adieu" is typically reserved for more formal or emotional situations, such as when parting with a loved one who is embarking on a long journey or when bidding farewell to someone who is leaving permanently, like moving to another country or passing away.

On the other hand, "Au Revoir" is a versatile phrase that can be used in various settings. It is commonly employed in everyday interactions, such as saying goodbye to colleagues at the end of the workday or bidding farewell to friends after a social gathering. "Au Revoir" is also suitable for more formal situations when the separation is temporary, such as when leaving a business meeting or a conference.

Cultural Connotations

Both "Adieu" and "Au Revoir" carry cultural connotations that reflect the French way of life and their attitudes towards farewells. "Adieu" is deeply rooted in French culture and is associated with a sense of nostalgia, melancholy, and the acceptance of inevitable change. It is often used in literature, songs, and movies to evoke strong emotions and convey a sense of finality.

On the other hand, "Au Revoir" reflects the French attitude of optimism and the belief in future encounters. It embodies the idea of "see you later" rather than a permanent goodbye. The phrase encapsulates the French culture's emphasis on maintaining social connections and the expectation of future reunions.

Regional Variations

It is worth noting that the usage of "Adieu" and "Au Revoir" can vary across different French-speaking regions. While both phrases are widely understood and used throughout the French-speaking world, some regions may have their own unique expressions for bidding farewell.

For example, in Quebec, Canada, it is common to hear the phrase "Salut" or "Bye" instead of "Au Revoir" in informal settings. In certain parts of France, particularly in the south, people may use the phrase "A bientôt" (see you soon) as an alternative to "Au Revoir." These regional variations add further richness and diversity to the French language and its expressions of farewell.


In conclusion, while both "Adieu" and "Au Revoir" serve the purpose of bidding farewell in the French language, they possess distinct attributes that differentiate them. "Adieu" carries a more profound and final connotation, often used in emotional or permanent farewells. On the other hand, "Au Revoir" is a versatile phrase used in everyday situations, suggesting a temporary separation with the expectation of future encounters.

Understanding the origins, usage, and cultural connotations of these phrases allows us to navigate the French language more effectively and appreciate the nuances of expressing farewell in different contexts. Whether you choose to bid "Adieu" or "Au Revoir," both phrases reflect the rich cultural heritage and social intricacies of the French-speaking world.

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