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A valediction (derivation from Latin vale dicere, "to say farewell"),[1] or complimentary close in American English,[2] is an expression used to say farewell, especially a word or phrase used to end a letter or message,[3][4] or a speech made at a farewell.[3]

Valediction's counterpart is a greeting called a salutation.


Valedictions normally immediately precede the signature in written correspondence. The word or words used express respect, esteem, or regard for the person to whom the correspondence is directed, and the exact form used depends on a number of factors.[5]

In British English, valedictions have largely been replaced by the use of "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully". "Yours sincerely" is typically employed in English when the recipient is addressed by name (e.g. "Dear John") and is known to the sender to some degree, whereas "Yours faithfully" is used when the recipient is not addressed by name (i.e., the recipient is addressed by a phrase such as "Dear Sir/Madam") or when the recipient is not known personally by the sender.[6]

Formal usage[edit]

Historically, valedictions were often elaborate and formal. Vestiges of such formality remain in various cases. The examples below are subject to some variation but generally follow the pattern described.

United Kingdom[edit]

  • Letters to the King of the United Kingdom should end, "I have the honour to remain, Sir, Your Majesty's most humble and obedient servant."[7] Alternatively, "I remain, with the profoundest veneration, your Majesty's most faithful subject and dutiful servant."[8]
  • Letters to other members of the royal family should end, "I have the honour to remain, Sir/Madam, Your Royal Highness's most humble and obedient servant."[7]
  • Letters to ambassadors should end, "I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration, Your Excellency's obedient servant."[9]
  • Letters to high commissioners should end, "I have the honour to be Your Excellency's obedient servant."[9]
  • Letters to the pope should end, "I have the honour to be Your Holiness's most devoted and obedient child." (substituting "obedient servant" if not a Roman Catholic).[10]
  • Letters to a cardinal should end, "I have the honour to be, My Lord Cardinal, Your Eminence's devoted and obedient child." (substituting "obedient servant" if not a Roman Catholic).[10]
  • Letters to an archbishop should end, "I have the honour to be Your Grace's devoted and obedient child." (substituting "obedient servant" if not a co-religionist).[10]
  • Letters to a bishop should end, "I have the honour to be Your Lordship's obedient child." (substituting "obedient servant" if not a co-religionist).[10]
  • Letters to an abbot should end, "I beg to remain, my Lord Abbot, your devoted and obedient servant."[10]

Business usage in the United States[edit]

The following table contains complimentary closings as recommended for business hard-letter use by two American authorities: Barron's Educational Series[11] and American Management Association (AMACOM).[12]

Closing Recommended use
Yours truly, "formal closing" (Barron's); "no personal connection between writer and recipient" (AMACOM)
Very truly yours, "no personal connection between writer and recipient" (AMACOM)
Respectfully yours, "formal closing" (Barron's); to person of acknowledged authority or "great formality" (AMACOM)
Sincerely, or Sincerely yours, "less formal closing" (Barron's); personal and business relationship (AMACOM)
Cordially, "less formal closing" (Barron's)
Cordially yours, often used, but it is "incorrect" (AMACOM)
Regards, Personal regards, Kindest regards, "personal closing" (Barron's)

Diplomatic usage[edit]

A diplomatic note verbale always ends with an elaborate valediction, most commonly "[Sender] avails itself of this opportunity to renew to [recipient] the assurances of its highest consideration".[13]

Valedictions in e-mail[edit]

Valedictions in formal e-mail are similar to valedictions in letters; on the whole, they are variations of "regards" and "yours".[14] However, a wide range of popular valedictions are used in casual e-mail but very rarely in letters.[14]

Other forms[edit]

  • "Yours aye" is a Scottish expression meaning "Yours always", still commonly used as a valediction to end written correspondence in the Royal Navy and British Army,[15] and occasionally used by sailors or people working in a maritime context. It is commonly used in the Royal Australian Navy as a sign-off in written communication such as emails.
  • "Yours, etc." is used historically for abbreviated endings. It can be found in older newspaper letters to the editor, and often in US legal correspondence. "&c." may be seen as an alternative abbreviation of et cetera, the ampersand functioning as a ligature form of "et". "I am, etc." and "I remain, etc." are also used.
  • "Yours hopefully" is occasionally used in letters of respect or complaint.[citation needed]

United States military usage[edit]

Current regulations of the United States Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy call for two complimentary closings for letters: "Respectfully yours" and "Sincerely". "Respectfully yours" is reserved for the president (and, for the Army only, the president's spouse) and the president-elect. "Sincerely" is used in all other cases.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

For more informal (but still professional) correspondence among military service members, "Respectfully" and "Very Respectfully" are used. These are often abbreviated as "R" and "V/R." "Respectfully" is addressed to those of lower rank and "Very Respectfully" is addressed to those of the same rank or above.[citation needed]

The Commander of the Navy's school in the military's Mustang University[23] stated his preference, in 2014, that the older "Very respectfully" be used in letters to someone senior in pay-grade or positional authority. However, the commander acknowledged that current regulations call for "Sincerely" and told students they were free to follow that practice.[24]


In written form, valediction is very important in Bengali. When writing official letters, general customs are:

  • Apnar ekantô badhyôgôtô (আপনার একান্ত বাধ্যগত) transl. Yours Sincerely.
  • Apnar Bishwôstô (আপনার বিশ্বস্ত) transl. Yours faithfully.

In oral form, various forms are used

  • Khoda Hafez (খোদা হাফেজ), from Persian, literal meaning: 'May God be your Guardian' (primarily Bengali Muslims).
  • Allah Hafez (আল্লাহ হাফেজ), from Persian, literal meaning: 'May Allah be your Guardian' (primarily among Bengali Muslims).
  • Namaskar (নমস্কার), from Sanskrit, literal meaning: 'I bow to the divine in you' (primarily among Bengali Hindus).


Valedictions in Chinese are highly variable and reflect the relative social status of the sender and recipient. Salutation (問候語) is traditionally placed after valediction (申悃語) and the closing of the main body of the letter, as opposed to its typical location in English. Traditional valediction include:

  • To social seniors: 肅此上達 (prostrating [to you], delivering up)、敬此馳稟 (respectfully, speedily reporting)、耑肅奉稟 (especially prostrating, respectfully reporting)、肅此 (prostrating [to you])、敬此 (respectfully)、謹此 (reverently)。
  • To social equals: 耑此奉達 (especially, respectfully delivering)、匆此布臆 ([apologetically] quickly, relaying [my] estimations)、特此奉聞 (especially relaying [for your] information)、草此奉達 ([apologetically] simply, respectfully delivering)、草此 (simply)、耑此 (especially)。
  • For replications especially: 耑肅敬覆、耑此奉覆、肅函奉覆、耑此敬覆、匆此布覆。
  • For congratulations or commemoration: 敬申賀悃、肅表賀忱、用申賀意。
  • To or from mourning persons: 恭陳唁意、肅此上慰、敬申哀悃。
  • For expression of gratitude: 肅誌謝忱、敬此鳴謝、耑鳴謝悃。


Standard French language valedictions tend to be much more complex than standard English ones, more akin to older English valedictions. They show a fair degree of variation, for example:

Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.
"Please accept, Madam, Sir, the expression of my distinguished sentiments."


Veuillez recevoir, Madame, mes sincères salutations.
"Please receive, Madam, my sincere salutations."


Je vous prie de croire, Monsieur, à mes sentiments les meilleurs.
"I beg you to believe, Sir, in my best sentiments."

In the latter case of a formula beginning with the first person, the valediction is often enhanced with a participial phrase concluding the sense of the letter (since traditionally it is not considered appropriate to begin a paragraph with the first person singular je in a letter):

Espérant recevoir une réponse favorable, je vous prie d'agréer, Madame…
"Hoping for a favourable answer, I beg you to allow, Madam…"

A number of rules concern the use of these formulae:

  • the title used in the salutation of the letter must be reproduced in the valediction; so a letter addressing Madame la députée would conclude, Veuillez, Madame la députée.
  • the wording recevoir l'assurance should be used in a letter from a hierarchical superior to an inferior, whereas the wording agréer l'expression should be used in a letter from a hierarchical inferior to a superior, and not conversely.
  • in a letter from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man, the writer must not send sentiments if they are not close family relatives (i.e. mother and son, father and daughter, brother and sister, or possibly close cousins).

Such formulae may be used even in more friendly letters, often with the adjective cher or chère for the recipient. Letters to dignitaries may use even more grandiose styles, such as:

Daignez, Monsieur le Premier ministre, agréer l'expression de ma considération très distinguée.
"Deign, Mr. Prime Minister, to allow the expression of my most distinguished consideration."

or more commonly:

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur le Premier ministre, l'expression de ma très haute considération.
"Please accept, Mr. Prime Minister, the expression of my highest consideration."

According to French typographic rules, the proper capitalization for the official title is "Premier ministre" although people who mimic English titles or fear that they might appear disrespectful often use more capitals than the rules commend.

Veuillez agréer, Madame l'Ambassadeur, l'expression de mes salutations les plus respectueuses.
"Please allow, Madam Ambassador, the expression of my most respectful salutations."

Another French typographic rule states that when addressing someone, styles like Monsieur, Madame, Mademoiselle, should never be abbreviated, even if followed by a title (hence, writing M. le Premier Ministre or Mme l'Ambassadeur would be considered clumsy).

Much shorter styles may be used in brief notes (Sincères salutations), and informal letters (such as between intimates) may use expressions such as (with approximate English equivalents – not literal translations):

  • Amicalement ("In friendship")
  • Amitiés ("Your friend")
  • À bientôt ("See you soon")
  • Au plaisir de vous revoir ("Hope to see you again soon")
  • Bien amicalement ("In Good Friendship")
  • Bien à vous ("Sincerely yours")
  • Cordialement ("Cordially")
  • Meilleures salutations ("Best Salutations")
  • Salutations distinguées ("With distinguished salutations")

Unlike in English, when the letter writer has a title that is unique in his or her organization, it is placed before, not after, the name:

Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
La vice-présidente des ressources humaines,


Valedictions in German, while a lot less complex than those in French, are similarly flexible. The highly formal form Hochachtungsvoll (lit. 'highly respectfully') has been practically obsolete for many years and is very rarely used in modern German, except for highly formal correspondence from authorities or in letters with a highly negative connotation where "friendliness" would not be appropriate.

The standard business valediction is Mit freundlichen Grüßen (lit. 'with friendly regards') and is equivalent to Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully in English. A more seldom used variant of this is Mit freundlichem Gruß, which is as above but in the singular form. Other semi-formal alternatives include (roughly in descending order of formality) Mit besten Grüßen (lit. 'with best regards'), Beste Grüße, Mit herzlichen Grüßen (lit. 'with cordial regards'), Viele Grüße (lit. 'many regards'), Schöne Grüße (lit. 'nice regards').

German valedictions also offer the possibility of adding your location, e.g. Mit freundlichen Grüßen aus Berlin to added effect. While this is no less formal, it does have a more "relaxed" feel to it. Other less formal location-centric variations are also possible, such as Viele Grüße aus dem sonnigen Barcelona (lit. 'many regards from sunny Barcelona').

These valedictions are also often adapted to specific professions, states or political views. For example, it is common to use Mit solidarischen Grüßen ("with regards in solidarity") among socialist and communist groups, Mit gewerkschaftlichen Grüßen (lit. 'with union regards') or Mit kollegialen Grüßen (lit. 'with cooperative regards') among labour union members, Mit kameradschaftlichen Grüßen (lit. 'with comradely regards') among military personnel, Mit sportlichen Grüßen ("with sporting regards") among sportspeople, and Mit gebärdenfreundlichen Grüßen ("with gesture-friendly regards", implying sign language gestures) among persons hard of hearing.

More familiar valedictions in German follow the same formula. Alles Liebe or (Viele) liebe Grüße are common in German for friends or family. Friends or close colleagues among each other may use simply Gruß.

It is possible in informal and rapid e-mail communication to sometimes use abbreviations of the forms, unlike in English. In this way, Mit freundlichen Grüßen may be shortened to MfG and Liebe Grüße may be shortened to LG. A popular form in Germany in recent years, hdl (habe dich lieb, lit. 'am fond of you') and hdgdl (habe dich ganz doll lieb, lit. 'am very fond of you', for somewhere between "I like you" and "I love you") has found increased usage in SMS text messaging and e-mails in more intimate relationships.

Judges have deemed that Section 86a of the German Criminal Code forbids the use of Mit deutschem Gruß (lit. 'with German regards'), as it has National Socialist overtones;[25] deutscher Gruß refers to the Nazi salute.


Formal letters in Israeli Hebrew often end with בברכה (bivraKHA; lit., with blessing). A strictly formal ending is בכבוד רב (bekhaVOD RAV; with great honor, or respect). Slightly less formal forms, used between individuals, are כל טוב (kol TOOV; all the best), as well as להשתמע (lehishtaMEah) or נשתמע (nishtaMEah; we shall hear from each other), which are in essence somewhat dated equivalents of להתראות (lehitraOT; we shall see each other, or simply, see you).

Jews in the United States often use 'B'shalom' or 'shalom' (Hebrew: בשלום, lit.'in peace') within Jewish circles, for example, from a Rabbi to his congregation. This is an American Jewish usage, rarely heard from native speakers of modern Israeli Hebrew. 'B'shalom' is incorrect, as it is religiously tantamount to wishing death on someone. Indeed, the Talmud says: "In bidding farewell to the living one should not say, 'Go with peace' [lech b'shalom], but 'Go to peace' [lech l'shalom], because [King] David said to [his son] Absalom, 'Go with peace', and he went and was hanged; whereas Jethro said to Moses, 'Go to peace', and he went and succeeded." [Talmud, Moed Katan 29a]


  • Maradok tisztelettel: Very formal and now dated, means "I respectfully remain (your servant)".
  • Tisztelettel: Very formal, means "With regards". This is the equivalent of the English "Yours sincerely/faithfully/truly".
  • Üdvözlettel: Somewhat formal, assumes existing relationship. Often used between colleagues. It literally means "Greetings".
  • Üdv: An abbreviated and informal form of Üdvözlettel. Very frequently used in e-mails among colleagues.
  • Puszi: Informal and somewhat intimate, means "kiss on the cheek". Often used within family and among friends, between or toward women.
  • Csók: Intimate, it means "kiss (on the mouth)". Mostly used between couples.

Hungarian valedictions are extendable, which makes a number of variations on the above expressions possible, such as Őszinte tisztelettel ("With sincere appreciation") or Szívélyes üdvözlettel ("With cordial regards").


  • Keigu (敬具 – Sincerely)
  • Kashiko (かしこ – With great humility)


Formal valedictions should end with a comma followed by a paragraph where the valedictor's name (and optionally his status) is identified. Depending on the occasion, different degrees of formality are adequate, ranging from highly formal (e.g. solemn occasions) to totally informal (e.g. a conversation among friends). Some formal valedictions can be used at different formality degrees, but almost never in informal situations.

Highly formal valedictions[edit]

  • Com os melhores cumprimentos ("With the best compliments")
  • Respeitosamente ("Respectfully")
  • Reverentemente ("Reverently")
  • Com protestos da mais elevada estima e consideração ("With protestations of the highest esteem and consideration")

Formal valedictions[edit]

  • Atenciosamente ("Graciously")
  • Atentamente ("Attentively")
  • Saudações académicas ("Academic salutations", very common within Portuguese universities)

Semi-formal valedictions[edit]

  • Cordialmente ("Cordially")
  • Com amizade ("With friendship")
  • Cumprimentos ("Regards")
  • Saudações cordiais ("Cordial salutations")

Informal valedictions[edit]

  • Abraço ("a hug", usually between men), also Abraços ("hugs"). Some common variants include Forte Abraço ("Strong hug") and Grande Abraço ("Big hug")
  • Até já ("see you soon"), also Até depois and Até logo ("see you later")
  • Beijo ("a kiss", usually between women or between woman and man), also Beijos ("kisses") and Grande Beijo ("big kiss")
  • Beijinho (literally "a kisslet", very common especially between female and male friends), also Beijinhos (literally "kisslets")
  • Muitas saudades ("I miss you verily")
  • Seu / Sua ("Yours": male/female valedictor)
  • Tudo de bom ("All the best")

Abbreviated valedictions (informal)[edit]

  • Abs, Abr, Abç abbreviated form of Abraço ("hug") or Abraços ("hugs")
  • Bj, Bjo, abbreviated forms of Beijo ("kiss") or Beijinho ("kisslet"), also Bjs ("many kisses/kiss")
  • Cumps. abbreviated form of Cumprimentos ("Regards")


  • С (глубоким) уважением ((Very) respectfully yours) – most often used
  • С (наи)лучшими пожеланиями (Best regards) – allowed between long-time partners, otherwise sounds condescending
  • Искренне Ваш (Sincerely yours) – a bit affectionate, e.g. a younger colleague addressing a senior one
  • Ваш (yours)
  • Ваш покорный слуга (Your obedient servant) – ironic; the least possible degree of formality between people not being close friends or socially equal
  • Примите заверения в моём самом искреннем уважении и почтении (Please accept the assurances of my sincerest regards and respect) – diplomatic etiquette
  • До скорой встречи (See you soon) – informal


  • S pozdravom (Sincerely)
  • S úctou (Yours truly) - very formal
  • Srdečné zdravím (Cordial greetings)
  • Drž sa (Take care)


  • Saludos ("Regards")
  • Atentamente (literally "attentively", a very common business valediction similar to "respectfully")
  • Cordialmente ("cordially")
  • Amablemente (literally "amiably", similar to "kindly")
  • Amorosamente ("lovingly", not commonly used in Spain)
  • Tiernamente ("tenderly", not commonly used in Spain)
  • Un cordial saludo ("cordial greetings")
  • Reciba un cordial saludo ("receive cordial greetings")
  • Un abrazo ("a hug", very common between male friends and male family members)
  • Abrazos ("hugs")
  • Un beso ("a kiss", very common to and from female friends and family members)
  • Besos ("kisses")


  • Högaktningsfullt (Highly respectfully – Old style and very formal, no longer in common use)
  • Med vänlig hälsning (With friendly regard – Common in business letters)
    • or: Med vänliga hälsningar (With friendly regards)
    • in informal emails often written: Mvh
    • or: Vänligen (Kindly)
  • Hjärtliga hälsningar (Cordially – somewhat formal among friends, informal in business letters)
  • Kram (Hug – informal, between friends)


  • Saygılarımızla[26] (yours faithfully)
  • Saygılarımla (yours sincerely, or kind/best regards)
  • Saygılar (respectfully yours, or regards)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. 1996. p. 519.
  2. ^ Complimentary close on The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition.
  3. ^ a b Valediction – Definition from American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. (2011). as cited by The Free Dictionary.
  4. ^ Valediction
  5. ^ Scheyder, Elizabeth (2003). "The Use of Complimentary Closings in E-mail: American English Examples". Working Papers in Educational Linguistics. 19 (1): 27–42. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  6. ^ "Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely?". Daily Writing Tips.
  7. ^ a b "Addressing Royalty: Communicating With the Queen". Debrett's.
  8. ^ Ltd, Cassell (1869). Cassell's Household Guide - Hints to Letter Writers. ISBN 9785871686072.
  9. ^ a b "Diplomatic Service: Forms of Address". Debrett's.
  10. ^ a b c d e "The Roman Catholic Church: Forms of Address". Debrett's.
  11. ^ Alan Bond, 300+ Successful Business Letters for All Occasions, 2nd Edition (Barron's Educational Series, 2005), 7.
  12. ^ James Stroman, Kevin Wilson, Jennifer Wauson, Administrative Assistant's and Secretary's Handbook, 5th Edition (AMACOM: American Management Association, 2014), 299.
  13. ^ "Diplomatic Translation". Translation Journal. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b Kallos, Judith. "Email Sign-off Considerations". Net M@nners. Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  15. ^ "Walking down the street, opening doors and wearing hats at weddings", The Sunday Times.
  16. ^ Department of Defense (October 26, 2010). Manual for Written Material: Correspondence Management (PDF). DoDM 5110.04-M-V1. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 22, 2011.
  17. ^ Joint Chiefs of Staff (April 2013). Joint Staff Guide, DOM/SJS, JS Guide 5711.
  18. ^ Editorial Guidance and Accepted Usage for Joint Staff Correspondence, Enclosure K, K-1 to K-10 (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2013.
  19. ^ Army Regulation 25–50, Preparing and Managing Correspondence (PDF), 6 July 2015, retrieved September 8, 2015
  20. ^ SECNAV Manual M-216.5 Appendix B, Civilian Models of Address, B1-B10 (PDF), March 2010, retrieved September 8, 2015
  21. ^ Air Force Handbook 33-337, "Communications and Information" THE TONGUE AND QUILL (PDF), 27 May 2015, pp. 197–213, retrieved September 8, 2015
  22. ^ "Department of the Navy Correspondence Manual" (PDF). US Department of the Navy. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  23. ^ Officer Training Command: Home of the Navy OCS. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  24. ^ USN (July 2014). "LDO CWO Documents" (PDF). The Mustang Lariat (LDO AND CWO Officer Community Managers Newsletter). Retrieved October 8, 2015.
  25. ^ Rechtsextremistische Subkulturen Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Turkish". Retrieved 8 January 2018.

External links[edit]