bye-bye, bye-bye

I often find myself using the term “bye-bye” here especially with small children who are seemingly always encouraged by their mothers to “wave bye-bye at the strange looking foreigner”. So it was illuminating to read in a borrowed copy (thanks Dr. Laurie, you’re a champion mate!) of the Barry Humphries memoir “My Life as Me” a small section about this quaint term.

According to Humphries “bye-bye” has been used since the mid-nineteenth century and was often most used by his mother’s neighbourhood friend as a “bookend” to her welcoming “Yoo-hoo” upon arrival at the suburban back door of Humphries childhood home.

But the reason for my reporting on this is the marvellous paragraph that Humphries uses to describe the term:

In later years, when Mrs Gray waved, her ‘bye-byes’ wobbled. In the vernacular of the Australian housewife, ‘bye-byes’ are those tender jowls of flesh beneath the triceps of mature women, which quiver in the valedictory gesture.

How wonderfully put!