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This article is about the social act. For other uses, see Greeting (disambiguation).
"Good evening" redirects here. For the Marshall Crenshaw album, see Good Evening (album). For the song by John Reuben, see John Reuben.
Translations of the word welcome shown in many places frequented by foreigners or tourists to welcome people of all different nationalities.

Greeting is an act of communication in which human beings intentionally make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship (usually cordial) or social status (formal or informal) between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other. Greetings sometimes are used just prior to a conversation or to greet in passing, such as on a sidewalk or trail. While greeting customs are highly culture and situation-specific and may change within a culture depending on social status and relationship, they exist in all known human cultures. Greetings can be expressed both audibly and physically, and often involve a combination of the two. This topic excludes military and ceremonial salutes but includes rituals other than gestures. A greeting, or salutation, can also be expressed in written communications, such as letters and emails.

Some epochs and cultures have had very elaborate greeting rituals, for example, greeting of a sovereign. Conversely, secret societies have often furtive or arcane greeting gestures and rituals, such as a secret handshake, which allow members to recognize each other.

In some languages and cultures, the same word or gesture is used as both greeting and farewell. Examples are "Good day" in English, "Aloha" in Hawaiian, "Shalom" in Hebrew, "Namaste" in Hindi and "Ciao" in Italian. The bow and handshake are also used for both greeting and leave taking.

Greeting gestures[edit]

The civilian Secretary General of NATO Joseph Luns tips his hat at a troop review in 1983, in lieu of a military salute. This (the full gesture is shown here) was by then becoming old-fashioned as a general social greeting, but had once been normal.

A greeting can consist of an exchange of formal expression, a simple kiss, a hand shake or a hug. The form of greeting is determined by social etiquette, as well as by the relationship of the people.

Beyond the formal greeting, which may involve a verbal acknowledgment and sometimes a hand shake, facial expression, gestures, body language and eye contact can all signal what type of greeting is expected. Gestures are the most obvious signal, for instance greeting someone with open arms is generally a sign that a hug is expected.[1] However, crossing arms can be interpreted as a sign of hostility. Facial expression, body language and eye contact reflect emotions and interest level. A frown, slouching and lowered eye contact suggests disinterest, while smiling and an exuberant attitude is a sign of welcome.

Many different gestures are used throughout the world as simple greetings. In Western cultures the handshake is very common, though it has numerous subtle variations in the strength of grip, the vigour of the shake, the dominant position of one hand over the other, and whether or not the left hand is used.

Historically, when men normally wore hats out of doors, male greetings to people they knew, and sometimes those they did not, involved touching, raising slightly ("tipping"), or removing their hat in a variety of gestures. This basic gesture remained normal in very many situations from the Middle Ages until men typically ceased wearing hats in the mid-20th century. Hat-raising began with an element of recognition of superiority, where only the socially inferior party might perform it, but gradually lost this element; King Louis XIV of France made a point of at least touching his hat to all women he encountered. However the gesture was never used by women, for whom their head-covering included considerations of modesty. When a man was not wearing a hat he might touch his hair to the side of the front of his head to replicate a hat tipping gesture. This was typically performed by lower class men to social superiors, such as peasants to the land-owner, and is known as "tugging the forelock", which still sometimes occurs as a metaphor for submissive behaviour.

In Europe, the formal style of upper-class greeting used by a man to a woman in the Early Modern Period was to hold the woman's presented hand (usually the right) with his right hand and kiss it while bowing. This style has not been widespread for a century or more. In cases of a low degree of intimacy, the hand is held but not kissed. The ultra-formal style, with the man's right knee on the floor, is now only used in marriage proposals, as a romantic gesture.

The Arabic term salaam (literally "peace", from the spoken greeting that accompanies the gesture), refers to the practice of placing the right palm on the heart, before and after a handshake.

A Chinese martial arts greeting features the right fist placed in the palm of the left hand, and a head nod or bow.

In India, it is common to see the Namaste greeting (or "Sat Sri Akal" for Sikhs) where the palms of the hands are pressed together and held near the heart with the head gently bowed.

In Indonesia, a nation with a huge variety of cultures and religions, many greetings are expressed, from the formalized greeting of the highly stratified and hierarchical Javanese to the more egalitarian and practical greetings of outer islands. Javanese, Batak and other ethnicities currently or formerly involved in the armed forces will salute a Government-employed superior, and follow with a deep bow from the waist or short nod of the head and a passing, loose handshake. Hand position is highly important; the superior's hand must be higher than the inferior's. Muslim men will clasp both hands, palms together at the chest and utter the correct Islamic slametan (greeting) phrase, which may be followed by cheek-to-cheek contact, a quick hug or loose handshake. Pious Muslim women rotate their hands from a vertical to perpendicular prayer-like position in order to barely touch the finger tips of the male greeter and may opt out of the cheek-to-cheek contact. If the male is an Abdi Dalem royal servant, courtier or particularly "peko-peko" (taken directly from Japanese to mean obsequious) or even a highly formal individual, he will retreat backwards with head downcast, the left arm crossed against the chest and the right arm hanging down, never showing his side or back to his superior. His head must always be lower than that of his superior. Younger Muslim males and females will clasp their elder's or superior's outstretched hand to the forehead as a sign of respect and obeisance. If a manual worker or a person with obviously dirty hands salutes or greets an elder or superior, he will show deference to his superior and avoid contact by bowing, touching the right forehead in a very quick salute or a distant "slamet" gesture.

The traditional Javanese Sungkem involves clasping the palms of both hands together, aligning the thumbs with the nose, turning the head downwards and bowing deeply, bending from the knees. In a royal presence, the one performing sungkem would kneel at the base of the throne.

A gesture called a wai is used in Thailand, where the hands are placed together palm to palm, approximately at nose level, while bowing. The wai is similar in form to the gesture referred to by the Japanese term gassho by Buddhists. In Thailand, the men and women would usually press two palms together and bow a little while saying "Sawadee ka" (female speaker) or "Sawadee krap" (male speaker).

Some cultures use hugs and kisses (regardless of the sex of the greeters), but those gestures show an existing degree of intimacy and are not used between total strangers. All of these gestures are being supplemented or completely displaced by the handshake in areas with large amounts of business contact with the West.[citation needed]

These bows indicate respect and acknowledgment of social rank, but do not necessarily imply obeisance.

Throughout all cultures people greet one another as a sign of recognition, affection, friendship and reverence. While hand shakes, hugs, bows, nods and nose rubbing are all acceptable greetings, the most common greeting is a kiss, or kisses, on the cheek. Cheek kissing is most common in Europe and Latin America and has become a standard greeting in Southern Europe.[2]

While cheek kissing is a common greeting in many cultures, each country has a unique way of kissing. In Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, the Netherlands and Egypt it is customary to “kiss three times, on alternate cheeks.”[3] Italians, Hungarians and Romanians usually kiss twice in a greeting and in Mexico and Belgium only one kiss is necessary. In the Galapagos women kiss on the right cheek only[4] and in Oman it is not unusual for men to kiss one another on the nose after a handshake.[5] French culture accepts a number of ways to greet depending on the region. Two kisses are most common throughout all of France but in Provence three kisses are given and in Nantes four are exchanged.[6] However, in Finistère at the western tip of Brittany and Deux-Sèvres in the Poitou-Charentes region, one kiss is preferred.[7]

Other greeting gestures[edit]

In other languages[edit]

Sampeah (Cambodian greeting)
  • Afrikaans: Hallo, goeie more/naand
  • Albanian: Përshëndetje
  • Arabic: مرحبًا / سلام (marḥaban/salām)
  • Armenian: Բարեւ Ձեզ (Barev Dzez)
  • Azerbaijani: Salam
  • Basque: Kaixo
  • Bavarian: Servus (informal), Grüß Gott (formal)
  • Belarusian: Прывітанне (Pryvitannie)
  • Bengali: নমষ্কার Nomoshkar / সালাম Salam
  • Berber: Azul!/Ahul!
  • Brazilian Portuguese: Oi, Olá, Bom dia/tarde/noite
  • Bulgarian: Здравейте (Zdraveĭte)
  • Burmese: Mingalarba
  • Canadian French: Allô
  • Catalan: Bon dia. Hola. Com va?
  • Cebuano: Komusta.
  • Chamorro: Hafa Adai
  • Chewa: Moni Bambo
  • Chinese: 你好 (Mandarin: nǐ hǎo, Cantonese: nei5 hou2)
  • Cree: Tansi
  • Croatian: Bok (informal), Dobar dan (formal)
  • Czech: Ahoj, Nazdar (informal), Dobrý den/večer/podvečer (formal)
  • Danish: Hej/Davs/Mojn (informal), Goddag/Godmorgen/Godaften (formal)
  • Dutch: Hallo, Hoi, Hé (informal), Goedendag/Goedemorgen/Goede avond/Goedenavond (formal)
  • English: Hello, Hi (informal), Hey (informal), Good Day/Morning/Evening (Good Day also used as formal farewell.)
  • Estonian: Tere, Tere hommikust / päevast / õhtust
  • Fijian: Bula Vinaka
  • Filipino: Hello/Kumusta
  • Finnish: Hei, Terve, (Hyvää) huomenta/päivää/iltaa (formal)
  • French: Salut, Bonjour
  • Frisian: Hoi
  • Georgian: გამარჯობა (Gamarjoba); გამარჯობათ (Gamarjobat) (plural or formal); გაუმარჯოს (Gaumarjos) (informal)
  • German: Hallo (informal), Grüß Gott (formal, only in South Germany and Austria), Guten Morgen/Guten Tag/Guten Abend (formal)
  • Greek: Γειά σας (Yia Sas) for formality, Γειά σου (Yia Sou) for informality, Γειά simple
  • Hausa: Ina kwana, Ina wuni, (informal). Barka da asuba, Barka da rana (formal). Sai da safe (informal), Mu kwana lafiya, Asuba ta gari (formal).
  • Hawaiian language: Aloha (also farewell)
  • Hausa: Ina Uni
  • Hebrew: שלום (Shalom)
  • Hiligaynon: Komusta.
  • Hindi: नमस्ते (Namaste)
  • Hopi: Mike
  • Hungarian: Szia(sztok)/helló(sztok) (informal); Jó napot kívánok (formal)
  • Icelandic: Hæ
  • Igbo: Nde-Ewo
  • Ikiribati: Mauri
  • Indonesian: Halo (informal), Salam Sejahtera (formal and time-neutral), Selamat Pagi/Siang/Malam (formal-morning/afternoon/evening)
  • Irish: Dia Dhuit
  • Italian: Ciao (informal, also farewell), Salve (semi-formal), Buongiorno/Buonasera (formal)
  • Japanese: こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
  • Kazakh: Сәлем, амансыз ба, Ассалаумағалейкм
  • Khmer: ជំរាបសួរ Sousdey (informal), Joum Reab Suor (formal)
  • Korean: 안녕하세요 (An-nyeong-ha-se-yo)
  • Latin: Salve (singular), Salvete (plural)
  • Latvian: Sveiki, Sveicināti (semi-formal), Labrīt/Labdien/Labvakar (formal)
  • Lithuanian: Sveiki (semi-formal), Labas rytas/Laba diena/Labas vakaras (formal)
  • Macedonian: Здраво (Zdravo)
  • Malay: Apa khabar
  • Maltese: Merhba!
  • Maori: Kia Ora
  • Marathi: Namaskar
  • Mongolian: Сайн байна уу
  • Navajo: Yáʼátʼééh
  • Nepal Bhasa: ज्वजलपा (Jwajalapa)
  • Nepali: नमस्ते (Namaste)
  • Norwegian: Hei (informal), God dag (formal)
  • Occitan: Bonjorn. Adiu. Consí anatz?
  • Persian: درود (Dorood) / سلام (Salam)
  • Polish: Cześć (informal), Dzień dobry/Witam (formal), Dobry wieczór (good evening)
  • Portuguese: Ei! (very informal), Oi, Olá (mildly informal), Bom dia/boa tarde/boa noite (formal)
  • Pakistani Punjabi: Ki Hal Ay کی حال اے /kiː hɑːl eː/
  • Punjabi: Sat Sri Akal
  • Romanian: Salut (informal), Bună dimineaţa/ziua/seara (formal), 'Neaţa(informal)
  • Russian: Привет (Privet), Здравствуйте (Zdravstvuite)
  • Serbian: Здраво/Zdravo (informal), Добар дан/Dobar dan (formal)
  • Sinhalese: ආයුබෝවන් (Ayubovan)
  • Slovak: Ahoj (informal), Dobrý deň (formal)
  • Slovenian: Živijo (informal), Zdravo (informal) Dober dan (formal)
  • Somali: Haye
  • Spanish: Hola (informal), Buenos días (formal), Buenas tardes (good afternoon), Buenas noches (good evening, after sunset)
  • Sulka: Marot
  • Swahili: Jambo
  • Swedish: Hej (informal), god dag/god afton (formal)
  • Tagalog: Helo (informal), Kamusta ka (formal)
  • Tamil: வணக்கம் (Vanakkam)
  • Tanchangya: Ju,Ju ju, Bondona, Nomoskar
  • Telugu: నమస్కారం (Namaskaram)
  • Thai: สวัสดี (Sawatdi)
  • Tongan: Malo e lelei
  • Turkish: Merhaba
  • Ukrainian: Доброго здоров'я (Dobrogo zdorovya), Добридень(Dobryden')
  • Urdu: سلام (salām)
  • Urhobo: Mavo
  • Vietnamese: Xin Chào
  • Waray: Komusta.
  • Welsh: Helo, sut mae (or shwmae).
  • Yiddish: שלום עליכם (sholem aleikhem)
  • Xhosa: Molo (single person), Molweni (multiple persons)
  • Zulu: Sawubona

Voicemail greetings[edit]

Voicemail greetings are pre-recorded messages that are automatically played to callers, when the voicemail system answers the call. Some voicemail systems allow for different greetings to be played to different callers.

Telephone greetings[edit]

Most languages have alternate greetings to be used over the telephone. In this case, the greeting is meant to confirm whether the person on the other line is present. The term "greeting" may also refer to a pre-recorded message replayed when the call cannot be answered.

In some cultures as the Brazilian one, giving personal names to strangers on the telephone is a commonly avoided practice (due to the regularity of faux kidnapping scams, as well various forms of civilian violence), so one is expected to neither give it nor ask for it, especially if the called is from a background of middle or high income. In others, such as the German and the Dutch, it is generally given before it could be solicitated.

Country/Language Owner answers phone Caller's response
Argentina ¿Hola?
Belgium and The Netherlands using first and family name, sometimes only the first or family name is used. Hallo met "name of caller"
Brazil Alô? Oi? Sim? Pronto. (Residência/casa de família, a residence)
Bom dia/boa tarde/boa noite, quem deseja? (both residences and shops)
Quem fala? Quem está falando? Com quem falo? Quero falar com (called).
Oi, sou (quem chamou, caller), posso falar com (quem desejo, called)?
Olá, eu sou (caller), poderia me comunicar com (called) por favor?
Cambodia Allô? Joum Reap Suor!
Chile ¿Aló?
China Wei? / 喂?
Croatia Molim? When ID of caller is known, usually greeted by Alo, Ej or Reci.
Finland Using first and/or family name. When the ID of the caller is known, they may be greeted directly. "Haloo?" is sometimes used as a neutral confirmation.
France Allô?
Georgia ბატონო? (Batono?); ალო? (Alo?); დიახ (Diakh); გისმენთ (Gisment)
Germany using family name, often with first name
Hungary Halló, jónapot kívánok! Halló, tessék!
Iceland Halló?
India Hello
Indonesia Halo? (informal)
Selamat Pagi/Siang/Sore/Malam. (semi-formal)
previous line + dengan <receiver's name> di sini. (formal-personal)
second line + dengan kediaman <fullname/surname>. (formal-residential)
Iran Alo.
Israel Shalom.
Italy Pronto. Chi parla? Pronto. Sono (chiamante, caller), parlo con (chiamato, called)?
Japan Moshi moshi / もしもし
Hai / はい
Dochirasama desuka? / どちら様ですか?
Dare desuka? / 誰ですか?
Korea Yeoboseyo? / 여보세요? Yeoboseyo. / 여보세요.
Malta Hello? Min hemm fuq il-linja?
Mexico Bueno. ¿Con quien hablo?
Mongolia Сайн байна уу? Сайн, сайн байна уу?
Paraguay Hola. Hola. ¿Con quien hablo?
Poland Słucham.
Portugal Está? Quem fala?
Romania Alo? Cine e?
Russia Алло (Да) Алло
Spain Diga/Dígame. Oiga/Oigame.
Sweden "Hallå?" Usually, but not always, followed with first and/or last name.
Turkey Alo? (Efendim?) Kiminle görüşüyorum?
Venezuela ¿Aló? ¿Quien habla?
Vietnam A-lô?

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Boeree. "personpercept.html". Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  2. ^ "Cheek kissing". 
  3. ^ "Greetings Lesson". Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  4. ^ "Galapagos FAQs Preparing for your trip". Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  5. ^ "Greetings in other cultures". Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  6. ^ "Faire la bise - French Gestures". 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2011-01-27. 
  7. ^ "210 French Kissing Map". Frank Jacobs. 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2012-01-02.