Word of the Day


Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a ceremony or public event in honour of an important person

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun salute comes ultimately from the Latin ‘salutare’ meaning ‘to greet’. The meaning above was first used in English at the very end of the 17th century.


Today is the 94th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and for the first time in her 68-year reign there will be no guns fired to mark the occasion. This is at her own request, as she feels the ceremony would be inappropriate at this time. Traditionally the Queen’s birthday is marked by royal gun salutes fired from different locations in London and across the UK. Most of these consist of 21 rounds, fired at 10-second intervals, making these the usual 21-gun salute. In Hyde Park in London an extra 20 rounds are fired, making it a 41-gun salute. Unlike most of the rest of us, the Queen has two birthdays: 21 April is her actual birthday, but she also has an official birthday on 13 June. The reasoning behind this is that the weather is generally better in June, making it easier to mount elaborate ceremonies. The British climate being what it is, the weather in June is frequently awful, and this year at least 21 April is set to be fine in most parts of the British Isles.


“The regiment was so relaxed – a salute was more like a friendly wave.”
(Antony Beevor)

Related words

ceremony, ceremonial, march-past, parade

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

Leave a Comment