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December 27, 2005


I am interested by what appears to be an oversight of potential interpretations of the cited meaning and association between the terms "lully", "lullay", and "by, by".

The referenced etymologies, which include "lull" and "lullen" as early forms, share a common theme of pacification. Therefore, "lully" and "lullay" can be viewed as derivative forms that were used in poetic/melodic phraseology.

Additionally, the use of "by, by" in the refrain does not necessarily interpret as a farewell. Rather, it may be an early idiomatic use of such phrases as "by and by", "by the by", and the Christian favorite, "in the sweet by and by". If such is the case, "by, by, ..." would be an unspecified and unknown space of time.

When the two concepts are combined, "by, by, lully, lullay" becomes a mother's attempt to pacify her child (and herself) by suggesting that the child will soon be calm and resting.

Thank, you Mark. I think your idea is surely worthy of consideration. I am not sure whether I would draw a clear distinction between the Online Etymology Dictionary's suggestion of "bye bye" being derivative of something akin to "goodbye", and your suggestion of "by and by". In the German, for example, "auf wiedersehen" is used to mean "goodbye" and more literally means until I see you again." It has the implication that you will see each other again in Heaven if not before. Similarly, remember the French "au revoir". In a medieval context, "goodbye" may well have had the implication of seeing someone again by and by, or in the "sweet by and by." So you might actually see that dictionary's suggestion as being supportive of your thinking.

Thank you for your thoughts!

I may have been given wrong information but here goes.......Lullaby was told to have arisen from the "Lilith" figure of the Hebrew bible and many other ancient stories. Lilith was said to be Adams first wife who wanted equality but was denied. She descended into the "dark world" where she became, among other things, a baby snatcher. In fact , infant crib death was blamed on Lilith snatching the child.. Lilith was also known as "lulu", "lilth" and some other names.. A "lullaby" was a song sung to the child before bedtime to ward of lilith... Lilith go bye bye basically.

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