Servus, and various local variants thereof, is a salutation used in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe. It is a word of greeting or parting like the Italian ciao (which also comes from the slave meaning through Venetian s'ciavo). It was once common in some regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but it has fallen in disuse in part of its former range.
The salutation is spelled servus in German, Bavarian, Slovak, Romanian, and Czech. In Rusyn and Ukrainian it is spelled сервус, in the Cyrillic alphabet. In Croatian, the variant spelling serbus (a transliteration from сербус or сервус) is also used. The greeting is spelled szervusz in Hungarian and serwus in Polish.
These words originate from servus, the Latin word for servant or slave. (Servus is also the origin of the word "serf".) The phrase is an ellipsis of a Latin expression servus humillimus, domine spectabilis, meaning "[your] most humble servant, [my] noble lord". Nevertheless, no trace of subservience is implied in its modern use, which has only the cliché force of "at your service".
Use of this expression is roughly coincident with the boundaries of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is especially popular in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania (mostly in Transylvania), as well as in southern parts of Germany (Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Palatinate, middle and southern Hesse), northern Croatia, eastern Slovenia (mostly in Slovenian Styria), and western Ukraine. It may be rarely used in Czech Republic and Poland (where it is considered an archaism, not used in common speech). The word may be used as a greeting, a parting salutation, or as both, depending on the region and context.
Despite its formal origins, servus is now used as an informal greeting in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Austria, Südtirol, Slovenia, Hungary, and Romania. In Hungarian, several shortened versions of szervusz remain popular, like szevasz, szeva, szia, and szió.
- Ciao, an Italian greeting of similar origin
- Tjenare, a Swedish greeting of similar origin, literally meaning "servant"
- Felix Smith (2020): "Usage of the word 'servus'". Post to Reddit's section /r/MapPorn. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Entry "servus" in the Cambridge German-English Dictionary. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Entry "servus" in the Glosbe Online Dictionary, Slovak-English section. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Entry "servus" in the Glosbe Online Dictionary, Romanian-English section. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Entry "servus" in the Glosbe Online Dictionary, Czech-English section. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Lyudmila Pustelnyk (2019): "Pittsburg. М’яке серце Сталевого Мiста" ("Pittsburgh. The soft heart of the Steel City"). Ukrainian People Magazine, 2019-06-04. Quote: "Про те ж саме думалося трохи згодом, у залах музею Ендi Ворхола. “Сервус, пане Вархола!”" ("The same thing was thought a little later, in the halls of the Andy Warhol museum. "Servus, Mr. Varhola!")
- Плач Єремії/Cry of Jeremiah (1997): "Сервус, пане Воргол" ("Goodbye, Mr. Vorgol"). Video of live concert in Ivano-Frankivsk. 1997-05-21. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Nikica Kalogjera, Ivan Kušan (1969): Song Serbus Zagreb.
- Entry "szervusz" in the Glosbe Online Dictionary, Hungarian-English section. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Entry "serwus" in the Glosbe Online Dictionary, Polish-English section. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Peter Kreuder, Harry Hilm, and Hans Lengsfelder (1936): Song Sag'beim Abschied leise Servus ("Say softly servus at the farewell"). Telefunken. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Gerhard Maier (2020): "...und Servas die Buam!". Article about Heinz Conrads's radio show. Story.One website, dated 2020-12-20. Accessed on 2022-08-14.
- Robert List (2007): Song Griaß di Madl, servas Bua.
- Kálmán László (7 September 2010). "Latin szolgák". Nyelv és Tudomány.