The strange history of the word “CIAO”
The etymology of the most widespread greeting
There are some Italian words of such common use that are known and used even by those who practice the language very little. Their meaning is simple, but the story behind them is not so well known and tells of distant times.
One of these words is the colloquial greeting ciao, which has an unexpected etymology: the noun, in fact, derives from the word “schiavo” (lit. “slave”).
In ancient times, in fact, the Latin greeting formula servus was used as a sign of respect, to indicate availability towards someone superior. Later in time the latin language mixed with the italian one, and servus became “schiavo“. In the 1900s the Venetian dialect changed the word again, transforming it into sciavo, from which derives the word “ciao“, as we know it today.