This past weekend, two right of centre provincial political parties agreed to merge into one. As I was reading articles online about the results, I came across a comment that piqued my interest.

The author of this comment obviously supported the merger, as he used his comment as an opportunity to wish our current premier, Rachel Notley, a “good riddens”.

I had never seen that phrase before. Obviously it should be “good riddance”. but it intrigued me. 

A search for “good riddens” actually brings up over 75,000 results on Google, so apparently, this commentator isn’t the only one to use this phrasing.

I can see how the mistake could be made.

The root of riddance is rid, a verb that means to make free:

  • She rid her face of pimples.
  • He rid Ireland of snakes.
  • They rid Gotham of criminals.

Its gerund form is ridding:

  • She is ridding her face of pimples.
  • He is ridding Ireland of snakes.
  • They are ridding Gotham of criminals.

Enter the word ridden. Typically, rid is its own past participle. But, it didn’t always use to be that way. Consider this passage from Captain William Trent’s journal:

As the New York traders to reach the Miami country passed through that of the Iroquois, the French devised a plan, which, if successful, would soon have ridden them of the English encroachments.

This has a meaning opposite to the more popular ridden, an adjective meaning “full of” or “oppressed by”:

  • That is one flea-ridden dog.
  • This is going to be a guilt-ridden trip.
  • The neighbourhood was flood ridden after that huge rainstorm.

Even though the form used by Trent has been around for a while, it’s pretty rare and considered archaic.

That being said, it’s not much of a jump to go from ridden to riddens when the latter sounds exactly like riddance. For someone not familiar with etymology, the author I mentioned above may not realize that -ance is a popular suffix used to turn verbs into nouns (e.g. radiance, appearance, defiance).

On a positive note, Google Trends shows that searches for good riddens has been on the decline over the last 13 years.

That means good riddens probably isn’t going to take over good riddance any time soon.

Just remember: if you came to this article searching good riddens, the actual phrase you want is good riddance.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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