I"m conscious that this can be one ill-formed question, yet I figured I"d throw it the end there and refine/revise it through the assist of the community here.

You are watching: Words that mean both hello and goodbye

Also no sure hot to tag this appropriately. You re welcome advise.


If you"re looking for a raw portion of all existing languages, probably you have the right to just throw out all the major languages. Out of the hundreds of languages in the world, the majority are spoken by one tribe and only inside to that tribe, and also most of them may have clear answers come this question.

But assuming that isn"t exciting to you, i think many of the significant languages have actually at the very least one arguable "hello/goodbye" word—those the didn"t develop one have actually usually obtained or calqued at least one the "hey/hej", "ahoy", "ciao", "shlamah/shalom/salaam", "servus", "salveo", "good day/g"day/goddag", "aloha", etc., and use them both ways even when the resource language didn"t. But it"s really difficult to decision which method to counting each language without making a bunch of arbitrarily choices. And, after ~ doing so, the count simply tells you around the arbitrary selections you made, not anything interesting around languages.

First, is "hello" really the major English word because that "hello"?

I think "hi" is offered a lot more. And also "hello" is certainly not etymologically or in history primary.1 The only reason to think the it as "primary" is that it has tendency to it is in the an initial greeting L2 learners room taught—but that"s since it"s the most "safe" word to use across formality and also other situational factors, not due to the fact that it"s the word most civilization usually use.

And countless other languages have actually the exact same issue. Because that example, look increase "hello" in one English-Danish dictionary and also it"ll say "hallo", but you greatly only hear that word together a phone call greeting. I think many commonly, people use "hej" in informal situations, and "god dag" in formal situations, and they just don"t have actually a neutral word for all situations.

Dialects are also a huge issue. Probably "g"day" is main in Australian English, as opposed to "hi" in American English. So, i beg your pardon of those is "primary in English"?

And that"s not strange to English. Greeting native seem come vary in between dialects (and sociolects) more than practically anything else.

It"s additionally not even entirely clear i beg your pardon words can mean both "hello" and "goodbye". For English "hello" or Hawaiian "aloha", it"s quite obvious. Yet what about Australian English "g"day", Danish "god dag", or Arabic "Salaam"? They"re every words that can average "goodbye", yet are used an ext often for "hello", and, the end of context, suggest "hello". Are they "hello/goodbye" native or not? What dominion would friend use?

Also, part languages distinguish between different type of greetings—the one girlfriend use when being presented to someone can"t be supplied when you run right into an acquaintance, etc. So, are those not also "hello" words, or execute you just have actually to match some the the offers of "hello" and also "goodbye" come count, or some specific use, or…?

And that course these complications all connect with each other. In some top German dialects, "tschau" is really common together a greeting, however rare together a farewell; in eastern dialects that SHG, it"s just a farewell. And in main European languages, I have the right to never remember from town to city whether "servus" is simply "hello" or both, even if it is it"s highly informal or stuffy for anyone under 70, etc.

And i don"t think this is also just a modern problem. Because that example, Hebrew and also Arabic both apparently borrowed from Aramaic the idea of using their "shlamah" ("peace") cognates as a greeting, but Hebrew finished up using it openly as "hello" and also "goodbye" and also Arabic primarily simply as "hello". And of course "shalom" and also "salaam" didn"t get in an empty niche in the languages, they had actually to complete with other greetings. And things were various from language to dialect. Similar to today.

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1. It to be a coinage for various dedicated greetings in the 19th century and also only became a share greeting indigenous later—I"m guessing after the telephone usage took off.