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come by

1. To obtain or acquire. Steady work is hard to come by in this economy. I struggle with math, but my sister comes by it easily, of course.
2. To visit a place. Jenny came by the house earlier, looking for you. I'm so happy that you're living in our neighborhood now—come by whenever you want!
3. To travel by a particular mode of transportation. Oh, I came by train because I hate driving into the city.
4. To enter or pass through a particular area or place. I felt my mood lift once some sunshine came by and replaced the clouds.
See also: come

come by (something) honestly

1. To obtain something without deception or other nefarious behavior. Are you sure he came by that expensive handbag honestly?
2. To inherit something, usually a trait from one's parent. She came by her compassion honestly, as her mother was the exact same way.
See also: come, honestly

come by (some place)

to stop some place for a visit. Can you come by our place for a few minutes on the way home? Please come by sometime.
See also: come

come by something

1. Lit. to travel by a specific means, such as a plane, a boat, or a car. We came by train. It's more relaxing. Next time, we'll come by plane. It's faster.
2. Fig. to find or get something. How did you come by that haircut? Where did you come by that new shirt?
See also: come

come by something honestly

1. Fig. to get something honestly. (See also come by something.) Don't worry. I came by this Swiss watch honestly. I have a feeling she didn't come by it honestly.
2. Fig. to inherit something—such as a character trait-from one's parents. I know I'm mean. I came by it honestly, though. She came by her kindness honestly.
See also: come, honestly

come by

1. Acquire, obtain, as in A good assistant is hard to come by. This usage, dating from about 1600, superseded the earlier sense of acquiring something with considerable effort. A variant is come by honestly, meaning "to obtain in some honorable or logical way." For example, I'm sure she didn't come by that large bonus honestly or He does have an unusual gait but he came by it honestly; his father's is the same.
2. Stop in, visit, as in Please come by whenever you're in the neighborhood. [Late 1800s]
See also: come

come by

1. To visit someone: I told them to come by for dinner some evening.
2. To pass into a region: A nice breeze came by and the campers felt cooler.
3. To gain possession of something; acquire something: We don't know how our neighbor came by all that money.
4. To find something: Really good movies are hard to come by.
See also: come
References in classic literature ?
And now, honestly, I wished I had put a bullet through my head before joining in this murderous conspiracy; but retreat was impossible, even if I had been the man to draw back after going so far; and I had a still stronger reason for standing by the others to the bitter end.
After believing, honestly believing, that love was one of the lost illusions of my life--after feeling, honestly feeling, that I would as soon look at the devil as look at a woman--there was the state of mind to which retribution had reduced me; using for his instrument Miss Emily Brown.
It is impossible for me to say honestly that I am not distressed
I can honestly ask you to accept my heart's dearest wishes for your happiness--and I can keep the rest to myself.
What daughter of Eve (no matter whether she was seventeen or seventy) could have honestly arrived at any other conclusion?
The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched.
Formerly, when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, for unfortunately I am become somewhat callous, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free.
But this puts an infinitely worse face on the matter, and suggests, beside, that probably not even the other three succeed in saving their souls, but are perchance bankrupt in a worse sense than they who fail honestly.
I have reached the conclusion that, in order to come by money honestly, one must work and know how to earn it with hand or brain.
The whole parish declared she could not come honestly by such things; and parents, instead of wishing their daughters the same, felicitated themselves that their children had them not.
I understand," she said, "that you have honestly done your best, in what you believe to be my interest.
Our experience of the Reformatory woman is, that when tried in service--and when kindly and judiciously treated--they prove themselves in the majority of cases to be honestly penitent, and honestly worthy of the pains taken with them.
But the idea of absolute insanity which we all associate with the very name of an Asylum, had, I can honestly declare, never occurred to me, in connection with her.
Well, let them get the ship how they would, we came honestly by her, as we thought, though we did not, I confess, examine into things so exactly as we ought; for we never inquired anything of the seamen, who would certainly have faltered in their account, and contradicted one another.
Now you speak plain English," said I, "and I thank you; and though I know nothing that we have done like what you talk of, for I am sure we came honestly and fairly by the ship; yet seeing such a work is doing, as you say, and that you seem to mean honestly, I will be upon my guard.