‘Ring Out The Old Ring in The New’: Definition, Meaning, Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on July 2, 2024

Have you ever heard the expression 'ring out the old, ring in the new'? Perhaps you've wondered what it means. You won't have to wonder much longer because this article will explore the meaning of this popular idiom, its possible origins, and how to use it in a sentence.

If you're just here to find out what it means, here's the short version:

  • 'Ring out the old, ring in the new' is an expression commonly used in the context of the new year and refers to embracing the new things that come our way.

What Does 'Ring Out The Old, Ring in The New' Mean?

The idiom 'ring out the old, ring in the new' is often used to bid farewell to the past and welcome the future. It is commonly associated with transitioning from one year to another, especially during New Year celebrations.

The word 'ring' refers to the ringing of bells, which traditionally symbolizes the passage of time. It represents embracing change and new opportunities as one phase concludes and another begins.

While this expression was primarily used to refer to the New Year celebrations, over time, it has evolved to 'out with the old, in with the new' and is now used more broadly to refer to change.

So how do you use it? Imagine, for example, that you have taken a new job.

You might say:

I'm ready for this new challenge. Out with the old, in with the new!

If you wish, you can insert a noun or pronoun after the adjectives' old' and 'new' like this:

Out with the old habits, in with the new ones.

Where Does 'Ring Out The Old, Ring in The New' Come From?

The use of bell-ringing to mark the passage of time, especially during significant events or celebrations, has historical roots. Bells were traditionally rung during festive occasions and at midnight on New Year's Eve, symbolizing the end of the old year and the beginning of the new one. This practice has likely influenced the development of idioms like 'ring out the old, ring in the new.'

Perhaps the earliest recorded use of this idiom in literature is in Alfred, Lord Tennyson's 1850 poem, In Memoriam.

It goes like this:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is gone, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true. 

The tradition of using bells, as I mentioned earlier, predates Tennyson. Still, he is often credited for popularizing the use of this expression and its evolution into a commonly used idiom.

Examples in Sentences

Now that we've covered the meaning of this idiom and its origins, here are some example sentences that use it. You'll notice I've interchangeably used 'ring out the old, ring in the new' and 'out with the old, in with the new'.

As the clock struck midnight, the whole nation watched as the presenters rang out the old year with joyous cheers and rang in the new one with high hopes.

It's time to say goodbye to outdated technologies—out with the old, in with the new gadgets!

The company decided to ring out the old and ring in the new by bringing in some new blood.

Spring cleaning is a great opportunity to declutter your home—out with the old items, in with the new organization.

The New Year's Eve celebration not only aimed to ring out the old with joy but also to ring in the new year with a resolution for peace and harmony.

After a decade of the same routine, Sarah decided it was time to ring out the old habits and embrace a healthier lifestyle.

The city celebrated its centennial by ringing out the old irrelevant traditions and welcoming in new cultural events and festivities.

The fashion industry is known for constantly embracing change—out with the old trends, in with the new styles.

The wedding ceremony symbolized the couple's commitment to ring out the old life of solitude and ring in the new chapter of companionship and shared dreams.

The futuristic skyscrapers were a visual representation of the municipality's efforts to ring out the old architecture and ring in a modern, dynamic urban landscape.

Other Ways to Say 'Ring Out The Old, Ring in The New'

There are plenty of other ways to talk about transitioning to new things. They're great to use if you're looking for alternative phrases.

Here are some of them:

  • Turn the Page
  • Embrace Change
  • Start Fresh
  • Make a Clean Break
  • Close the Chapter
  • Begin Anew

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article about this popular idiom. To summarize, when you 'ring out the old, ring in the new,' you let go of old ideas and habits that no longer serve you and embrace change.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for other idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!    

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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