Origin of the word &

The Italian word ciao (“hello” and “bye” in English) comes from the Venetian word s-ciào, meaning “slave” in the Northern Italian dialect.

The word/phrase s-ciào/s-ciào vostro (which literally means “I am your slave” but is more something like “at your service”), probably started to be used in the 18th century * and spread to the rest of Italy at the end of the century/beginning of the 19th century, to later be shortened to ciao. It is similar to the Medieval Latin word servus, which is still in use in some Central European regions.

In Vietnamese, chào (also meaning “hello” and “goodbye”) is roughly * pronounced like ciao although their origins are totally different.



  • The most common ways of greeting in English are probably ‘hello’ and ‘hi’.
  • More formal ways of saying ‘hello’ are ‘good morning’, ‘good afternoon’, ‘good evening’ depending on the moment of the day.
  • Remember that ‘good night’ is not used to say ‘hi’ but to say ‘goodbye’ late in the day.
  • When leaving, ‘bye’ or ‘goodbye’ (more formal) are commonly used, as well as ‘have a nice day’.