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My question is about the meaning of the これで in これで失礼します. I've looked to see if I could find an explanation for it, but the many "literal" translations I found all seemed to use the word "now" in their translations in something like

Dewa kore de shitsurei shimasu > Well, I must be leaving now The idea of これで apparently being translated as "now" doesn't sound right to me but I can't find any explanations or questions about this very basic phrase. What does it actually mean?

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「これで」 here literally means "with this", with "this" referring to the last thing that has happened.

Translation exists for the benefit of the speakers of its target language, not the speakers of its original language. That is why "now" is a valid translation of 「これで」, if not a literal one, because "now" is usually the time when the last thing has just happened.

「失礼{しつれい}します」 does not mean "I am leaving.", either, if literal translation matters. It just means "(I shall) do impoliteness." But who would want to see "With this, I shall do impoliteness." as a translation for 「これで失礼します。」?

The public will eventually and naturally select the translation "I am leaving now."

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"これで失礼します" = "at this point, I dismiss myself."

For the record, the famous "さよ(う)なら" is a contraction of the expression "さようならば、これにて失{しつ}礼{れい}仕{つかまつ}る" used by samurai's, which in turn means "the situation being like that, at this point, I have the honour of dismissing myself."

Note that "これにて" is a classical form of "これで".

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