the act of saluting.
something uttered, written, or done by way of saluting.
a word or phrase serving as the prefatory greeting in a letter or speech, as Dear Sir in a letter or Ladies and Gentlemen in a speech.

1350–1400; Middle English < Latin salūtātiōn- (stem of salūtātiō) greeting, equivalent to salūtāt(us) (past participle of salūtāre to greet; see salute, -ate1) + -iōn- -ion

salutational, adjective
salutationless, adjective
nonsalutation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
salutation (ˌsæljʊˈteɪʃən)
1.  an act, phrase, gesture, etc, that serves as a greeting
2.  a form of words used as an opening to a speech or letter, such as Dear Sir or Ladies and Gentlemen
3.  the act of saluting
[C14: from Latin salūtātiō, from salūtāre to greet; see salute]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., from O.Fr. salutacion, from L. salutationem (nom. salutatio), from salutatus, pp. of salutare "to greet" (see salute). As a word of greeting (eliptical for "I offer salutation") it is recorded from 1530s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Salutation definition

"Eastern modes of salutation are not unfrequently so prolonged as to become wearisome and a positive waste of time. The profusely polite Arab asks so many questions after your health, your happiness, your welfare, your house, and other things, that a person ignorant of the habits of the country would imagine there must be some secret ailment or mysterious sorrow oppressing you, which you wished to conceal, so as to spare the feelings of a dear, sympathizing friend, but which he, in the depth of his anxiety, would desire to hear of. I have often listened to these prolonged salutations in the house, the street, and the highway, and not unfrequently I have experienced their tedious monotony, and I have bitterly lamented useless waste of time" (Porter, Through Samaria, etc.). The work on which the disciples were sent forth was one of urgency, which left no time for empty compliments and prolonged greetings (Luke 10:4).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
The blogosphere has been inundated with people mocking the new salutation and
  proposing alternative greetings.
Typing a formal salutation or sign-off with one's thumbs strains even the
  starchiest correspondent.
Specialisation has a formal salutation, while interdisciplinary has no
  salutation yet.
After you've said what you needed to say, cap the letter off with a succinct
  and sincere salutation.
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