Salutation (greeting)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A salutation is a greeting, in particular a formal greeting used in a letter. Salutations usually take the form "Dear [recipient's given name]". For each style of salutation there is an accompanying style of complimentary close.



The salutation of "Dear" takes precedence in both British and American English, usually in both formal and informal correspondence, for example "Dear Mr. Smith" or "Dear John". Whereas a comma follows the salutation in British English, a colon is used in formal correspondence in American English. In the US, a comma is considered appropriate for informal correspondence only.

If the name of the intended recipient is unknown, "Dear Sir/Madam", "Dear Madam/Sir", "Dear Sir or Madam", "Dear Madam or Sir", "To Whom It May Concern", or "Dear Sirs" are often used, though the last is archaic. "Mr.", "Mrs.", and "Dr." are typically followed by a period, whereas the period is omitted after Ms since it is not a contraction. Professional titles such as "Professor" or "Doctor" are often preferred over social titles. Dignitaries are addressed by their titles, e.g. "Dear Lord Mayor". Judges are often addressed as "Honorable".

"Miss" is generally reserved for unmarried women. "Ms." is for cases in which the marital status is either unknown to the writer or is irrelevant. For example, if you are writing a business letter to submit a bid to a female purchasing agent, "Ms." is entirely appropriate. "Mrs." is reserved for married women, and usually only those who have taken their husbands last name. In older conventions, "Miss" is always for unmarried women and "Mrs." is for married women. "Ms.", in such cases, is not used.


Standard salutation

The standard French salutation uses the normal style of address to the recipient of the letter, followed by a comma:

Monsieur, for a man
Mademoiselle, for a single woman
Madame, for a married woman or a single woman of very high rank, or age

When writing to a woman without knowing whether she is married or not, the writer should use Madame, unless the woman is very young (less than 16 or 18). When writing to an elderly single woman, it is also preferable to use Madame, unless one knows that the person insists on being called Mademoiselle.

According to a traditional custom which still followed by some people nowadays, when writing to a female artist (actress, singer, etc.), one should use Mademoiselle, regardless of the marital status and age of the person.

When not knowing the sex of the person to whom one is writing, the appropriate salutation is

Madame, Monsieur,

In the case where the writer knows well the recipient and is in friendly term with them, it is possible to add Cher/Chère in front of the address:

Cher Monsieur,
Chère Mademoiselle, (though this is not considered as appropriate for a male writer which is not a close family relative of the recipient)
Chère Madame,

An address using Chère/Cher and a title (Madame/Monsieur/Docteur) should normally not be followed by a persons name; the address Cher Monsieur Dupuis is thus usually considered incorrect.

In case the writer and the recipients are close friends or intimates, it is possible to use the given name of the recipient immediately after Cher/Chère.

In case they are family related, they may used their family link preceded by Cher/Chère. This is almost compulsory if the writer is a younger member of the family (child to parent, nephew to uncle/aunt, grandchild to grandparent, godchild to godparent) and left to the discretion of the writer in other cases.

Specific salutations

If the recipient holds a specific title, it must be inserted after the Monsieur/Madame:

Monsieur/Madame le Président, ("Mr./Mrs. President)
Monsieur/Madame l'Ambassadeur, ("Mr./Mrs. Ambassador)
Monsieur/Madame le Chancelier, ("Mr./Mrs. Chancellor)
Monsieur/Madame le (Premier) Ministre, ("Mr./Mrs. (Prime) Minister)
Monsieur/Madame le Directeur, ("Mr./Mrs. Director)
Monsieur/Madame le Professeur, ("Mr./Mrs. Professor)

In this case, one should always use Madame, and never Mademoiselle.

In some cases, the wife of a dignitary may be entitled to a special address:

Madame l'Ambassadrice, (for the wife of an ambassador)
Madame la Générale, (for the wife of a general officer)
Madame la Colonelle, (for the wife of a colonel)

If the recipient is a doctor, it is possible to use Docteur, or, more formally, Monsieur/Madame le Docteur, or, more casually, Cher Docteur, as salutation. This is often done for doctors of medicine. For other doctors, it is not common, even if the use is increasing, following the Anglo-Saxon custom. Basically one has to be consistent with the address: a letter sent to "Dr N. N." will use a salutation formula including Docteur, whereas a letter sent to "M./Mme N. N." will not.

If the recipient is a lawyer, notar (or various other legal positions), the proper salutation will be Maître ("Master"). The same salutation is used for famous writers, painters, and for members of the Académie française.

For some specific professions (lawyers, physicians, for instance), two persons exercising the same such profession will always use Cher Confrère".

The address may vary when writing to dignitaries. For instance, one will use:

  • for monarchs and members of their families or high nobility:
    • for a king/queen: Sire, / Madame,
    • for a sovereign prince/princess, a sovereign duke/duchess, a prince/princess of royal blood, a pretendent to a throne, etc. : Monseigneur, ("Mylord") / Madame,
    • for a non sovereign prince or a French Duke: Prince, / Princesse,
  • for catholic or orthodox clerics:
    • for the Pope: Très Saint Père, humblement prosterné aux pieds de Votre Sainteté et implorant la faveur de la bénédiction apostolique, ("Most Holy Father, humbly bowing down before the feet of Your Holiness and begging for the favour of the apostolic benediction,")
    • for the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople: Très Saint Père, ("Most Holy Father")
    • Monsieur le Cardinal, or less formally Éminence, (formerly (Illustrissime et) Éminentissime Seigneur, "(Most Illustrious and) Most Eminent Lord", now disused) for a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church
    • for a papal nunzio, Monseigneur, in private correspondence, and Monsieur le Nonce, for official uses
    • for a catholic prelate or a catholic or orthodox bishop, archbishop or patriarch: Monseigneur, ("Mylord"). For bishops/archbishops/patriarchs it is possible to be more formal and write Monseigneur l'Évèque / l'Archevêque / le Patriarche,
    • for the superior of a catholic or orthodox religious order: Mon Très Révérend Père or Révérendissime Père / Ma Très Révérende Mère or Révérendissime Mère ("Most Reverend Father/Mother"). Various specific salutations exist for some orders.
    • for a catholic or orthodox parish priest / archpriest / priest: Mon Père or Monsieur le Curé / l'Archiprêtre / l'Abbé
    • for a monk: Mon Père ("My Father") or Mon Frère ("My Brother"), depending on the order
    • for a nun: Ma Mère ("My Mother") or Ma Sœur ("My Sister"), depending on the order
if the writer knows well the priest/monk/nun recipient, it is possible to use (Très) Cher Père, (Très) Cher Frère, (Très) Chère Mère, (Très) Chère Sœur,: "(Most) Dear Father/Brother/Mother/Sister".
  • for members of the army:
    • for a navy general officer: Amiral,
    • for a male general officer (except navy): a male writer will use Mon Général, and a female writer Général,
    • for a female general officer (except navy): Général,
    • for a navy superior officer: Commandant
    • for a male superior officer (except navy): a male writer will use Mon Colonel / Mon Commandant, and a female writer Colonel / Commandant according to the rank of the officer,
    • for a female superior officer (except navy): Colonel / Commandant according to the rank of the officer,
    • for other members of the army: Monsieur / Madame.


German has two types of general salutations that are mutually distinguishable from one another - a formal and an informal form.

The formal form usually begins with Sehr geehrte(r) (lit. very honored) and the formal social title (and, if necessary, professional title) of the recipient together with surname is always used (e.g. Sehr geehrter Herr Schmidt, Sehr geehrte Frau Meier). Sehr geehrte(r) is never used with forenames alone, although, rare as it is, it is possible to include the full name (e.g. Sehr geehrter Herr Johann Schmidt). With an unknown recipient, Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren is used with no variation on this.

Informal salutations in German tend to begin with Liebe(r) (e.g. Lieber Paul, Liebe Annette)

Specific salutations appear in German very similar to the way they do in English, with the exception that in the address block of a letter German must include all or multiple salutations that can be abbreviated Herr Dr. Schmidt, or Herr Prof. Prof. Dr. Lamotke. While in the opening of a letter the direct salutation is reduced to only the most important title and not abbreviated Sehr geehrter Herr Doktor Schmidt, or Sehr geehrter Herr Professor Lamotke. The same applies to female variants Frau Prof. Prof. Dr. Lamotke, and Sehr geehrte Frau Professor Lamotke.

Further details in the German Wikipedia article de:Anrede


In Turkish there are two ways of salutations, formal and informal. Like most other languages, i.e. as in English, gender doesn't play a role in the salutation. When you want to address somebody in a letter etc. in a formal way like "Dear Name" you can say "Sayın Name". In this formal way you don't need to specify her/his gender. If you want to say "Dear Mr./Mrs. Name" you just have to say "Sayın Name". But if you know the title of who you concern with, it is better to specify it without name like "Sayın Doktor".

In formal salutation if you don't know the name who you concerning with, you would say "Sayın Yetkili" is something like "Dear Sir/Madam", does not have a gender pointing.

In informal way you would say "Sevgili Name", it has almost the same meaning with "Dear Name" but it just can be used for a person who is close to you.


Formal ways of salutation include "Sri", "Sriman", "Srimati", "Chiranjeevi", "Chiranjeevi Saubhagyavathi" and "Kumari". "Sri" and "Sriman" are used to respectfully address men where as "Srimati" (Abbr: "Smt.") is used for married women. "Chiranjeevi" is used to address youngsters - boys (Abbr: "Chi.") "Chiranjeevi Saubhagyavathi" is used to address young married females. "Kumari" (Abbr: "Ku") is used to address unmarried young women.

There are other ancient systems (not in use any more) of salutations including references to Hindu Goddess Lakshmi when respectfully addressing married women and references to Ganga when addressing widows.


In correspondence and during conversations, Russian speakers use the word "Уважаемый" as a salutation, followed by the given name and patronymic. Salutations to unknown parties usually include an honorific like "Гражданин", "Господин" or "Товарищ" ("Гражданка", "Госпожа", or "Товарищ" being the feminine counterparts).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Salutation (greeting)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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