\ ˌbī-ən-ˈbī How to pronounce by-and-by (audio) \

Definition of by-and-by

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a future time or occasion

by and by


Definition of by and by (Entry 2 of 2)

Synonyms & Antonyms for by-and-by

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of by-and-by in a Sentence

Adverb we'll get under way by and by
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The red oak leaves were staying put, by and by, of course. Bob Timmons, Star Tribune, 16 Oct. 2020 The previous GoT prequel project starring Naomi Watts, by and by, shot a pilot in Northern Ireland before HBO decided not to move forward with that one. James Hibberd,, 14 Oct. 2020 But by and by he allows himself to be coaxed into the fold. Michael Friedrich, The New Republic, 24 May 2018 Robert Frost would not gaze off into the snowy world, telling this tale with a sigh, by and by, not yet. Mary O’connell , Longreads, 18 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'by-and-by.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of by-and-by


1591, in the meaning defined above


1526, in the meaning defined above

Learn More About by-and-by

Time Traveler for by-and-by

Time Traveler

The first known use of by-and-by was in 1526

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near by-and-by

by ambulance


by and by

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for by-and-by

Cite this Entry

“By-and-by.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!