Is there a specialized term in linguistics for those words that, in a given language, can be used to say both hello and goodbye?

For instance, I've heard tell that in Hawaii the word "aloha" is used either to greet people or to bid them farewell. If I am not mistaken, the Italian word "ciao" also has this twofold functionality and I suppose that polyglots can easily come up with many more examples of this curious language phenomenon.

Thanks in advance for your learned replies!

  • 1
    Ciao dual meaning of "hello" and "goodbye" makes it similar to shalom in Hebrew, salaam in Arabic, annyeong in Korean, and aloha in Hawaiian. The Vietnamese word chào ("hello" or "goodbye"), while similar-sounding, is unrelated etymologically.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciao
    – user66974
    Apr 24, 2015 at 10:35

1 Answer 1



A gesture or utterance made as a greeting or acknowledgment of another’s arrival or departure

  • Aww. Beat me to it!
    – Dan Bron
    Apr 24, 2015 at 10:39
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    I don't know... I don't think that any salutation can be used BOTH ways. Apr 24, 2015 at 10:43
  • @J.H.S. - "Aloha" is a salutation that can be used either way. I don't know of any "English" salutations that can be, however.
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 24, 2015 at 10:48
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    @J.H.S. "Salutations" can be a greeting or a parting word...
    – VampDuc
    Apr 24, 2015 at 17:03
  • So, it seems like the phenomenon in question occurs in the English language too. Neat! Apr 25, 2015 at 6:58

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