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German word of the day: Servus

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German word of the day: Servus
Photo: depositphotos
09:53 CET+01:00
Today’s word of the day is one you quite possibly stumbled across if you’ve ever been to southern Germany (or Austria).

Servus is a general, friendly way of greeting someone – so it can be used for saying hello as well as for saying good-bye. The roots of this greeting date far back; it comes from the Latin word servus, which means “slave” or “servant.”

SEE ALSO: Grüß Gott, Moin, Hallo! The complete guide to regional dialects around Germany

So if someone greets you with Servus, it roughly translates to “I’m your servant” or “At your service!”

In wide parts of Southern Germany, it’s quite common to greet people with a hearty “Servus!”

But this notion is actually spread even further – it is a traditional greeting in wide parts of Central Europe. Servus, or slight variations of the word, are used in other parts of southern Germany, Austria, Poland, Croatia, Hungary and Romania, to name a few.

This video takes a look at how "Servus" and other words in Bavarian German are used.

Usually, servus is a colloquial way of greeting people you know better, especially friends. It is also one of the few historical words that is widely used amongst teenagers.

In Bavaria, servus has another meaning as well, though: If you hear someone say “Na servus,” that usually means that they are surprised, but in a disapproving way.

Examples:

Servus, lieber Freund.

Hello dear friend.

Servus miteinander!

Hello everyone.

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Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

 
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