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A valediction is a phrase used to say goodbye at the end of a letter.[1][2][3] It also refers to the act of saying goodbye to someone. It comes from the Latin vale dicere, which means "to say farewell".[4] Valedictions are normally written before the signature in a written message. The words used usually express respect or regard for the person to whom the message is written.

English valedictions often contain the possessive pronoun "yours"; for example, Yours truly. In the United Kingdom, Yours sincerely or Yours faithfully are most common.

Versions[change | change source]

Old versions[change | change source]

In old letters, Yours truly was often replaced with a longer sentence, for example:

I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
A. Name

Modern versions[change | change source]

Yours sincerely is used when the person sending the letter knows the name of the person receiving the letter.

Yours faithfully is used when the person who is receiving the letter is not known by name (i.e. the recipient is addressed by a phrase such as "Dear Sir/Madam").

Drama and poetry[change | change source]

Valedictions may be a prophecy, a warning or just a comment. In some types of literature, everyone is allowed a last word. In Njall's Saga, men tend to say things like "Oh, you have chopped off my arm", before dying.[dubious ]

Stock characters tend to say predictable things. But in Shakespeare they are the way he moves the action along. Macbeth meets the three witches, who foretell his downfall without him realising it. They hail him as "Thane of Glamis and Cawdor", and that "he shall be King". He will not be defeated "until Birnam wood move to high Dunsinane".

References[change | change source]

  1. Valediction – Definition from The Free Dictionary.
  2. Complimentary close on The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition.
  3. Valediction Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Etymology. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. 1996. p. 519.

Other websites[change | change source]