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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