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What does Godspeed Mean?

Most people wish others a safe voyage and a farewell for a trip.
In many dictionaries, the term "Godspeed" is labeled as archaic.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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To wish someone Godspeed is to ask for God's blessings on his or her endeavor, most notably a long journey or a risky but potentially rewarding venture. Some view godspeed as a more reverent alternative to "good luck," which arguably introduces chance and randomness into the mix, not divine providence. One might wish Godspeed on a relative embarking on a long business trip overseas, for example.

The confusion over the meaning of Godspeed, which may also be rendered as god-speed or even goodspeed, lies in the definition of speed. The original meaning of the Old English word speed had nothing to do with velocity, but rather prosperity and good fortune. The addition of God to the concept of financial bounty may sound jarring at first, but the word Godspeed was an acknowledgment of God's generosity and blessing. Speed in that sense was the righteous acquisition of wealth and property through hard work and reverent behavior.

Some sources suggest that the word Godspeed may have been a corruption of "good speed," a wish for a speedy journey aided by favorable winds and sailing conditions. Under this theory, the expression good speed eventually became god-speed and ultimately Godspeed. The application of a Deity's name was simply a happy accident. Indeed, there are some recorded incidents of "good speed" being used as a blessing for ship-bound passengers.

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The Middle English translators of the Holy Bible also used the term Godspeed in several passages, primarily in the Old Testament to indicate a God-inspired prosperity. This would suggest two separate evolutions of the expression, based on two different translations of the word speed. To wish someone Godspeed would be to wish him or her a prosperous journey or successful endeavor, while to wish someone goodspeed would suggest a swift and safe trip.

The expression Godspeed has largely fallen out of popular usage, and is generally listed as archaic in many dictionaries. Some still use it as a more theological blessing than a simple "good luck" or "bon voyage," although the original meaning has been forgotten in the mists of time.

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Discuss this Article

anon262074
Post 12

It's used a lot at the start of space missions (at least in movies).

anon243300
Post 11

All military movies use it, and now I'll start using it.

anon241040
Post 10

This term I came across in the "Angels and Demons" movie.

anon193845
Post 9

To FB 653178229: Austin Powers - The Spy that Shagged me, uses this term.

anon173589
Post 8

God's speed is much more than the human mind can comprehend. It relates to space/time travel which can be abundantly found in scriptural code. A good place to start, in relation to this article, would be where the master in the new testament gave talents and "went on a long journey." That's all that I am at liberty to say. Blessings.

anon157596
Post 7

While I was in the Marine Corps, we used it all the time. It was said to deploying units by other units that had just come back from over seas. I have since gotten out and I hear it every now and then.

anon148191
Post 6

For example, my college friend would say this to me before we went on a spring break trip.

anon147929
Post 5

Godspeed is a term used as a sentiment that you wish someone well on their journey. It should be taken as a compliment if someone says it to you.

Ondrelique Ouellette
Post 4

Oh, it's definitely still in use. I've heard more than a few people say it, which is why I had to look up the meaning in the first place. I've also heard the term in movies, though I can't recall which ones.

anon114045
Post 3

Thanks very much for the info.

love2learn
Post 2

Bartholomew Gosnold was the captain of the ship Godspeed which was one of the ships which sailed to America to colonize Jamestown, Virginia. Gosnold is considered to be the principle figure in the colonization of Virginia.

tellastory
Post 1

I found online that there are several media forms with Godspeed as the title. 4 novels, 4 bands, 18 songs, and 5 albums. The dictionary may label the term as archaic, but it is still in use, if in a different form.

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