1. What are the exceptions to the fact that most Asian, Middle Eastern and European languages greet with words anent health or peace? I know that "salutation" itself meant "health".

  2. Why don't these exceptional languages salute with words anent well-being? Surely their speakers must still care about health and peace! Or do they truly disregard well-being?

salute [14]

Salute goes back ultimately to the Latin noun salūs, a relative of salvus ‘safe, healthy’ (source of English safe and save). This had two main strands of meaning. The primary one was ‘health, well-being’, and in that sense it lies behind English salubrious [16] and salutary [15]. But by extension it also denoted a ‘wish for someone’s well-being’, hence a ‘greeting’, and it is this that has given English, via its derived verb salūtāre ‘greet’, salute.

Word Origins (2005 2e) by John Ayto. p 434 Right column.

  • 2
    Spanish also uses a despecho de and Portuguese a despeito de. Also, what exactly is it you’re not sure of here? Dépit and its cognates mean ‘resentment, anger, disappointment’ and pesar means ‘regret, grief, chagrin’; their meanings aren’t exactly miles apart. So ‘despite’ is either ‘in anger of’ or ‘in grief of’ – both seem about equally logical to me. (This would also be a better fit on Spanish Language than here, I think, even though it includes Portuguese.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 18 at 10:13
  • @JanusBahsJacquet I didn't know that "pesar means ‘regret, grief, chagrin’". But these nouns don't mean the same as spite! I don't understand how "in grief of" means "in anger of". They aren't equally logical to me. – hims Mar 19 at 6:37
  • 2
    You shouldn’t completely change the content of a question like this; you should ask a new question instead (however, now that someone has actually given an answer to the new question, don’t change it back, ’cause that would invalidate the answer). Also, there are plenty of greetings in European languages, even English, that have nothing to do with health: basic informal greetings like hi, hey or hello are completely devoid of any meaning (even etymologically) other than that of being a greeting. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Apr 11 at 7:51

Many greetings do not contain any health or peace. However, it is not clear to me what you are asking. Which languages do not have any greatings that contain an explicit mention of human health? Or languages that do no have any such greeting? (there will likely always be one, even if not commonly used)

Or does just wishing having a good time count for you? When you wish wish good morning, good day (Guten Tag...), good afternoon, good evening, you do not exlicitly mention the kind of welbeing. It is just that the time will be good in general.


Many modern Indo-Aryan languages use one of three forms of greeting:

  1. नमस्कार (namaskāra),
  2. नमस्ते (namaste), both from Sanskrit नमस् (namas) meaning obeisance,
  3. राम-राम (rāma-rāma) from the name of the deity राम (rāma)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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