I noticed a similarity between the word Salut in French and the word سلام in Arabic which is pronounced Salaam and they both mean "safety and well-being" and are both used as a general greeting to mean "hello". But Salut comes from Latin which I don't think is related to Arabic in any way. How can that be possible then?

3 Answers 3


Like you said, the French term salut comes from Latin and to be precise from salūs salūtis. This term appears in other Romance Languages as well: It. saluto, Es. saludo.

The meaning which is health, well-being, is carried out also by other descendants: It. salute, Es. salud, Port. saúde.

I don't think there is a connection to salaam which actually means peace in Arabic (I think you can confirm this meaning) and is related to the term shalom in Hebrew. You can find more about this on the Wikipedia page for Shin-Lamedh-Mem, the "the triconsonantal root of many Semitic words", at the section Salam "Peace".

According to the same page, this "root itself translates as whole, safe, intact", but the triconsonantal part refers to the Š-L-M, while in salut we miss the last one and we have a T instead.

There seems to be a real closeness in terms of meanings which could be a coincidence. Still, this is just a superficial analysis and I don't have all the tools/resources to absolutely exclude a link.

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    Generally, given the number of words in any language, and the number of combinations of sounds they represent, and barring borrowings, any two languages that are not related will have at least two or three words that are close to identical in sound, with close to identical meanings, by chance alone. Exempli gratia: English hole vs Yukatek Maya ho:l 'hole'; and Latin dua vs Malay duwa '2'.
    – jlawler
    Feb 16, 2013 at 22:05
  • @jlawler Yes that's true. I didn't exclude the coincidence and to me there's no link but I didn't want to be too strict with the judgement. :)
    – Alenanno
    Feb 16, 2013 at 22:14
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    I think the triconsonantal root thingy is evidence enough that it is mostly a coincidence. The only possibility I see is later developments when Arabs started speaking Latin to some degree and some sort of cross-pollination occurred that influenced the development of the Arab word and its pronunciation to some minor degree.
    – Cerberus
    Feb 17, 2013 at 5:17
  • @jlawler Malay has borrowed a lot from Sanskrit and Persian so you can't tell that the similarity between dua and duwa is a pure concidence (Because Persian and Sanskrit are related to European languages)
    – Mo Sanei
    Feb 17, 2013 at 7:37
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    @Anixx What repetition do you see exactly? I've said more than he stated in his question.
    – Alenanno
    Feb 19, 2013 at 15:05

These words may be related.

The Latin word comes from Proto-Indo-European solu̯os "healthy, whole". It is hypotized to derive from Proto-Eurasiatic calom "to suffice, be full" which also gave reflexes in other Eurasiatic languages such as Eskimo-Aleut ciɫǝ-m, Altaic čā́lo, Uralic cilä, Dravidian sāl-

The Arabic salaam and Hebrew šalom both derive from Proto-Semitic šǝlǝm "healthy, whole", which in turn derives from Proto-Afro-Asiatic s/cǝlǝm "healthy, whole".

Since both Eurasiatic and Afro-Asiatic belong to Nostratic (and considered quite close to each other), it is reasonable to suppose they are related.

Notice also Proto-Sino-Caucasian ʒó̆ɫǝ "healthy, whole" (example from Lak language: cullu-s:a "whole, healthy, undamaged") with Proto-Sino-Caucasian groupped as sister family to Nostratic into Borean.

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    Though it should be noted that most comparative linguists don't accept all these reconstructions. Proto-Indo-European is well-established, but this is not the case for (Proto- or non-Proto-) Eurasiatic, Sino-Caucasian, or Nostratic. There are even lots of linguists who don't accept Altaic; more than there used to be, in fact. The comparative method provides a limited window for temporal reconstruction; more than about 4 or 5 Kiloyears back, things get very, very muddy.
    – jlawler
    Feb 16, 2013 at 23:00
  • @jlawler 5 kiloyears back the things are quite clear, the difficulties start deeper in the past.
    – Anixx
    Feb 16, 2013 at 23:15
  • @jlawler the majority of linguists accept either Eurasiatic or Nostratic groupping in the sense they agree that the languages which constitute them are closely related.
    – Anixx
    Feb 17, 2013 at 20:23

To add to the previous posts, "Salve" was a common greeting phrase in Sweden during the medieval time, and also has a similar meaning (peace, well-being).

  • That is probably related to the words I mentioned, at least to the word Salut.
    – Mo Sanei
    Feb 17, 2013 at 19:43
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    I realize this is 6 years old, but someone bumped this question to the front page, so… Medieval Swedish "salve" was borrowed directly from Danish usage, which borrowed it from French, which inherited it from Latin, where it's the imperative of "salveō", meaning "be healthy!" French "salut" comes from Latin "salvus". And "salvus" is possibly derived from "salveō + -vus" in Latin, more likely from a proto-Italic coinage, or possibly all the way back to PIE "solh₂- + -wós". So yes, they're related.
    – abarnert
    Feb 10, 2019 at 18:59

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