How to Say Hello Ethiopian: Formal and Informal Greetings

Welcome to this guide on how to say hello in Ethiopian! Ethiopia, with its rich cultural heritage and diverse population, has various ways to greet someone depending on the context and region. In this guide, we will explore both formal and informal greetings, along with a few regional variations, if applicable. So, let’s dive in and discover the beauty of saying hello Ethiopian-style!

Formal Greetings in Ethiopia

When it comes to formal greetings in Ethiopia, it’s important to observe certain customs as a sign of respect. Here are a few phrases you can use:

1. Selam

The most common and widely used way to say hello formally is “Selam.” This word is derived from Arabic and is understood across the country. It can be used at any time of the day and is appropriate for any situation or setting.

Example: Selam! Ashewa new? (Hello! How are you?)

2. Selamnesh

Another formal greeting option suitable for addressing women is “Selamnesh.” This term specifically acknowledges the person’s femininity and adds a touch of politeness.

Example: Selamnesh! Ashegnetim? (Hello, madam! How are you?)

3. Tena Yistilign

In more formal settings or when greeting elders, “Tena Yistilign” is another phrase you can employ. This expression translates to “Good Morning” and implies respect and well-wishing.

Example: Tena Yistilign! Des yelehnew? (Good morning! How did you sleep?)

Informal Greetings in Ethiopia

Ethiopia prides itself on its warm and friendly culture, which is reflected in informal greetings as well. The following phrases are commonly used in casual conversations:

1. Senga?

A common informal greeting used among friends, especially among the younger generation, is “Senga?” This word is often used interchangeably with “Selam” in casual settings.

Example: Senga? Endet new? (Hey! What’s up?)

2. Akkam?

“Akkam?” is another way to say hello informally. This phrase is more colloquial and is often used between acquaintances, peers, or people of the same age group.

Example: Akkam? And? (Hi! How are you?)

3. Dehna neh?

When meeting someone familiar, you can also use “Dehna neh?” which roughly translates to “How are you doing?” This phrase carries a warmer tone and encourages a longer conversation.

Example: Dehna neh? And nehna? (How are you doing? How about us?)

Regional Variations

Ethiopia is a diverse nation with numerous ethnic groups, each having its own language and cultural practices. While Amharic is the official language, regional variations in greetings do exist. Here are a couple of examples:

1. Oromiffa

If you are in the Oromia Region or interacting with speakers of Oromiffa, you might use “Akkam?” as the informal greeting. However, keep in mind that Amharic is widely understood throughout Ethiopia, so using any of the phrases mentioned earlier would still be appropriate.

2. Tigrinya

If you find yourself in the northern part of Ethiopia, particularly in the Tigray Region, greetings might differ slightly. Instead of “Selam,” people in this region might use “Selam no” or “Selam nah?,” which have the same meaning but sound slightly different.


Now you are equipped with some essential greetings for saying hello in Ethiopian! Remember, whether it’s a formal or informal setting, showing respect and warmth is highly valued in the Ethiopian culture. Employ the appropriate phrases mentioned above, and you will undoubtedly make a positive impression with your Ethiopian counterparts. So go ahead, greet with confidence, and embrace the beauty of diverse Ethiopian greetings!

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Jane Slater
Jane Slater
1 month ago

Very helpful! Thank you. 🙏💝

What is the name of this language? Thank you.

22 days ago

como se escribe hola EN ETIOPIA

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