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late 14c., from Old French salutacion "greeting," from Latin salutationem (nominative salutatio) "a greeting, saluting," noun of action from past participle stem of salutare "to greet" (see salute (v.)). As a word of greeting (elliptical for "I offer salutation") it is recorded from 1530s. Related: Salutations.
"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).