The Good Morning/Good Day formula is pervasive in European languages, but is presumably not universal, and presumably it has not always been around. Do we have any evidence of when and where it first originated?

  • 2
    Ceteris paribus, a greeting like Good morning is common worldwide; cf. Malay Selamat pagi, which has no connection to European languages. People who live together have rituals around daily activities, which are usually accompanied by formulaic (hence untraceable) speech. Better to ask about exceptions.
    – jlawler
    Mar 27, 2018 at 15:33
  • 1
    Chinese speakers always point out that "zao an" and "wan an" etc are not really used by them and seem to exist only as literal translations. I don't recall any time-based greetings from my time in Cambodia, Georgia, Korea, Laos, Thailand, or Vietnam either. I've definitely heard or read claims like the Chinese one above about several other languages, perhaps languages in my little list, but perhaps others. My impression is lack of time-based greetings is common. Jul 10, 2018 at 5:53

1 Answer 1


I don't have any information on Latin/Early Romance (which would be a prime vector for such an expression to have diffused through Europe). And I hope someone else can answer for Latin!

But I have stumbled across an early attestation of "Good day to you" in Greek—which seems to indicate that the expression was at the time regarded as novel.


The Life of St Auxentius (written in the early 6th century AD, in an episode preserved in two linguistically archaised versions from the 11th century) records the saint making fun of a villager for greeting him with "Good day to you": he retorts "and a Good [entire] season to you", and grumbles that the villager should have asked for a blessing instead. One of the two versions explicitly calls the expression "local", which implies "vernacular".

By the 10th century, the expression was commonplace in Greek: it is reported in court ceremonies in the De Cerimoniis.

I have found no earlier instance of a "Good Day" expression in Greek than the 6th century.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.