Word of the Week: Servus [ˈseɐ̯vus]

Greeting. Often contracted in conversation as Servas!, Sers! or Seas! Also used to say goodbye.

Greetings! Often contracted in conversation as Servas!, Sers! or Seas! Also used to say goodbye. An essential Viennese expression, it’s been immortalized in numerous Viennese songs, most notably by crooner Peter Alexander (1926-2011) in his hit ballad, “Sag beim Abschiedleise Servus” (Say softly servus at the farewell).

Often the first and last thing said during a conversation, having a similar significance as Salut! in French or Ciao! in Italian. Orig. Latin, literally meaning “slave” or “servant,” making it com-parable to the English phrase “At your service!” but considerably more submissive, more like “I am your slave,” befitting the Untertan (loyal subject) demeanor that’s part of Vienna’s cultural heritage after so many generations under an emperor.

It’s quintessential to,and indicative of, the nature of Viennese charm – impossibly cour-teous, slightly oily, and somewhat disingenuous, as it’s universally understood that no Wiener has ever meant Servus literally.

It’s simply the grease in the gears of society, making everything run smoothly even if you don’t completely mean it – an attitude that also enables the underhanded compliment, a staple of Viennese Schmäh.

Stories are what make a city great. METROPOLE tells Vienna’s in English. Whether it’s insights about personalities, businesses or ideas, METROPOLE curates them for an international public. Looking to enrich your experience here? METROPOLE recommends events and locations to help make your Vienna story worth the telling.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!

RECENT Articles

Five Secrets to Safe Cycling in Vienna

How to get started on two wheels.

Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | No Lockdown Planned for October

The coronavirus has arrived in Austria. Here’s all you need to know about current measures, including where to get help, information and tips – updated regularly.

Transylvania | Over the River and Through the Woods

With a total area of over 100,000 km2, modern day Transylvania is the largest region of Romania, and, by itself, larger than Austria.

More Current Than Ever, Nina Simone – Four Women Brings Down the House at ...

A stellar cast and memorable songs transports the Civil Rights movement to the #BlackLivesMatter era

Election Fever in Vienna

As the city prepares to go to the polls, the streets are plastered with party propaganda posters. Michael Ludwig will almost certainly remain mayor, but his potential partners are pitching for a piece of power.

Trump Praises Austrian “Forest Cities” With Exploding Trees

With some highly unusual comments meant to put California’s environmental management in a bad light, the U.S. president set off a twitter storm of mockery and once again exposed his ignorance of the world.


Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.