late 14c., saluten, "to greet courteously and respectfully," earlier salue (c. 1300, from Old French salver), from Latin salutare "to greet, pay respects," literally "wish health to," from salus (genitive salutis) "greeting, good health," which is related to salvus "safe" (from PIE root *sol- "whole, well-kept").
The military and nautical sense of "display flags, fire cannons, etc., as a mark of ceremonious recognition or respect" is recorded from 1580s; specific sense of "raise the hand to the cap in the presence of a superior officer" is from 1844. In 18c. use often "to greet with a kiss."
c. 1400, "act of saluting, respectful gesture of greeting, salutation," from salute (v.). The older form was salu (c. 1200), from Old French salu and directly from Latin salus. The military sense of "ceremonial compliment" is from 1690s; specifically of the hand-to-cap gesture by an inferior to a superior from 1832.
updated on December 05, 2021