AskDefine | Define valediction

Dictionary Definition



1 a farewell oration delivered by the most outstanding member of a graduating class [syn: valedictory address, valedictory]
2 the act of saying farewell

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A speech made when leaving or parting company
  2. The act of parting company
  3. A word or phrase (such as adieu or farewell) said upon leaving

Related terms

Extensive Definition

A valediction is an expression used to say farewell (goodbye), especially at the end of a letter. (Other meanings not discussed in this article include the act of saying goodbye and a speech made at such an occasion.) The word comes from the Latin valedicere, meaning "to say goodbye".
The word valediction is often used loosely in English to refer to a complimentary closing, which is a courteous formula used to end a letter. This is normally a formulaic phrase preceding the writer's signature that expresses the writer's loyalty or best wishes to the recipient.
A valediction is often related to the salutation used in the letter or message.

Valedictions in letters (English)

Old formal valedictions

English language valedictions typically contain the word yours, a contraction of your servant; old valedictions were usually some voluminous statement, a complete sentence of the form
I beg to remain, Sir, your most humble and obedient servant,
This form is occasionally abbreviated to
Your obt svt,
As well as

Yours sincerely and Yours faithfully

In the UK, traditional valedictions have been mainly replaced by "Yours sincerely" or "Yours faithfully".
Yours sincerely is used when the recipient is addressed by name and is known to you to some degree, and Yours faithfully is used when the recipient is not known by name (i.e. the recipient is addressed by a phrase such as "Dear Sir/Madam").
When the recipient's name is known, but not previously met or spoken with, some people prefer the use of the more distant Yours faithfully, but most prefer to use Yours sincerely.
In the US, "Yours sincerely" is properly used in social correspondence. "Yours faithfully" is properly used in business correspondence with someone whose name is unknown to the writer (i.e., in a letter addressed "Dear Sir or Madam" or "To Whom It May Concern").
In the US, the inverted "Sincerely yours" and the simplified "Sincerely" are also common.

Yours truly,

Yours truly can carry either or both of two connotations in certain parts of the world: as a valediction formula, and by implication, as an informal reference by a person to themselves - "the speaker". In the USA, traditional valedictions have been mainly replaced by phrases such as "Yours truly," or "Very truly yours,". In the UK it has not historically been a common term, and is used only in less formal or social correspondence. Mostly UK slang, usage varies by area (not uncommon in London and similar areas, uncommon in many regional areas). It stands as a social device to circumvent the general distaste for being seen to blow one's trumpet (ie, to boast or show off) or in taking blame. Thus:
  • "Yours truly made the cake" -- a more polite informal way to say "I made the cake".
  • "If yours truly hadn't been sick that day..."
In this manner, it is also fairly common to sarcastically refer to a person present in the conversation, when talking to another person:
  • "Everything was going fine before yours truly here showed up..."

Yours aye

"Yours aye" is a Scottish expression meaning "yours always"

Yours for Scotland

"Yours for Scotland" is a valediction commonly used by Scottish Nationalists. It is sometimes abbreviated to YfS.

Yours, etc.

This is a usage in the USA by lawyers when they conclude a formal letter, or when they sign off in court papers that would also be read by a judge. Sometimes, it's shortened even further to Yours, &c. where et (Latin for and) is replaced with the ampersand (&).
In Jane Austen books, some letters are signed Yours, etc. or Yours Sincerely, etc.

Kind regards, best regards

Increasingly common in business usage, "kind regards" and especially "best regards" are often used as a semi-formal valediction in emails. In informal usage, they are often abbreviated to "Rgds", "BR", or "KR". The use of "kind regards" is most likely derived from the more formal, "kindest regards," which is itself a phrase derived from the even more formal combination of "Kindest regards, I remain," "yours" or "truly yours" or any one of a number of valedictions in common usage.

I have the honour to remain, Madam, Your Majesty's most humble and obedient servant

This is used when addressing the Queen of the United Kingdom.


Other less formal expressions exist, often some variant of Best wishes such as All my best or, simply, Best. For family members or intimates, an expression such as Your friend, Your loving son or (in the case of lovers) Your Albert may be used; or the name may simply be preceded with All my love or Love.
Less commonly, other adverbs or adverbial phrases may be used, in keeping with the tone of the letter, such as In solidarity or Fraternally. Christian clergy often use Yours in Christ.

Valedictions in letters in French

Standard French language valedictions tend to be much more complex than standard English ones, more akin to older English valedictions. They show a fair degree of variation, for example:
Veuillez agréer, Madame, Monsieur, l'expression de mes sentiments distingués.
"Please receive , Madam, Sir, the expression of my distinguished sentiments."
Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
"Please receive, Sir, my sincere salutations."
Je vous prie de croire, Madame, à mes sentiments les meilleurs.
"I beg you to believe, Madam, in my best sentiments."
It may be enhanced with a participial phrase concluding the sense of the letter, though this must be used with a formula beginning with the first person in order to make grammatical sense:
Espérant recevoir une réponse favorable, je vous prie d'agréer, Madame...
"Hoping for a favourable answer, I beg you to allow, Madam..."
A number of rules concern the use of these formulas. For example, the title used in the salutation of the letter must be reproduced in the valediction; so a letter addressing Madame la députée would conclude, Je vous prie, Madame la députée. An exception is that a letter to Monsieur, Madame (sir or madam) concludes, ...Madame, Monsieur...
Other rules state that the word assurance should not be used in a letter from a hierarchical inferior to his or her superior, and that a woman must not send sentiments to a man.
Such formulas may be used even in more friendly letters, often with the adjective cher or chère for the recipient. Letters to dignitaries may use even more grandiose styles, such as:
Je vous prie d'agréer, Monsieur le Premier Ministre, l'assurance de ma haute considération.
"I beg you to allow, Mr. Prime Minister, the assurance of my highest consideration."
According to the French typographic rules, the official title should be spelled "Premier ministre". People who mimic English titles or who do not want to appear disrespectful often use more capitals than the rule commend.
Veuillez agréer, Madame l'Ambassadrice, l'expression de mes sentiments les plus respectueux.
"Please allow, Madam Ambassador, the expression of my most respectful sentiments."
Much shorter styles may be used in brief notes (Sincères salutations), and informal letters (such as between intimates) may use expressions such as (with approximate English equivalents—not literal translations):
  • Amicalement ("In friendship")
  • Amitiés ("Your friend")
  • À bientôt ("See you soon")
  • Au plaisir de vous revoir ("Hope to see you soon")
  • Bien amicalement ("Yours warmly")
  • Bien à vous ("Yours truly")
  • Cordialement ("Cordially")
  • Meilleures salutations ("Warmest greetings")
  • Merci bien ("Thanks very much")
  • Salutations distinguées ("Sincere greetings")
Unlike in English, when the letter writer has a title that is unique in his or her organization, it is placed before, not after, the name:
Veuillez recevoir, Monsieur, mes sincères salutations.
La vice-présidente des ressources humaines,

Valedictions in e-mail

Valedictions in formal e-mail are similar to valedictions in letters: on the whole, they are variations of "regards" and "yours". However, a wide range of popular valedictions are used in casual e-mail but very rarely in letters. These include:
  • Cheers
  • Keep in touch
  • Take care
  • Warmly
E-mail messages, especially those used for very brief communication, are commonly signed off without valedictions, these being replaced by automatically appended signature texts. Some are pragmatically not signed off at all, since a sender's name is usually provided in the message headers.
valediction in German: Grußformel (Korrespondenz)
valediction in Simple English: Yours truly (letter)
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