When A Kiss Is Just a Kiss

One of the interesting things about the Romanian language is that is has two words for “kiss” (either the noun or the verb), both of them coming from Latin, yet having two very distinct meanings.

The first one – pup – comes from the Latin word for kissing someone, now only surviving in Italian (mostly in colorful phrases I won’t detail here) and Romanian.

The second one – sarut – comes from the Latin word for greeting someone, similar to the English word “salutations”.

The interesting thing is that in Romanian, un pup is the “greetings” kiss and un sarut is the “romantic” kiss.

If you’re kissing your husband, wife or girlfriend then the noun (and related verb) to use is sarut.

Traditionally, Romanians end conversations with people (they are close to) with the pup kiss. In my book (and here on the site) I refer to it as the “Euro kiss”.

Romanians are also fond of saying “I kiss you” which is usually either “te pup” (for singular, “familiar” you) or “va pup” (I kiss “you” plural).

Emails, “old fashioned” letters and other written communications between people who are close to one another end in “te/va pup” as well.

It is essential to understand that you only pup people you are on close terms with and never, ever use it in “formal” situations.

Likewise, it’s usually not a good idea to lay un sarut on someone you don’t know well :P


17 thoughts on “When A Kiss Is Just a Kiss

  1. Thanks for the info.

    I’ve been texting a Romanian girl for a bit and went out to lunch with her.

    Since then she says ‘kiss you’ at the end of texts and calls.

    I’ve just been reading it as putting an ‘x’ at the end of the text and it looks like I was right!


  2. A “sărut” can also be a close / loving kiss in a non romantic way, like when you talk to family or very close friends. My grandmother always says “te sărut” when ending our phone conversations, meaning to express love and good thoughts for me.

    On a somewhat related note, did you notice how in on line environments (IM, Facebook and the sort), young people from Romania have started using the word “poop” instead of “pup”. Whenever I see someone writing “te pooooop” or “pooop la toata lumea” it makes me cringe…


  3. I would immediatly think of french – where there are 2 ways of kissing
    bisous/bises = pup/pupic – small kiss on the cheek or very short on the lips
    embrasser = a saruta – the real thing
    It is also common between friends or close persons to say “bises” at the end of a text message or conversation. Without same the implications as it would be saying “kisses” in the US.


  4. There’s no such thing as “un pup”. The verb is a pupa, thus te pup va pup etc, but the noun would either be the common yet technically derived “un pupic”, ie, a little pup-kiss, or the uncommon albeit more straightforward “o pupatura” which’d be old country style form to note “that which is done by the verb a pupa”, similar to “o intepatura”, which is the noun describing the action of the verb “a intepa” – to stab, with a tiny instrument like a needle.


    1. Well you better tell the DEX (which I linked to) that there’s “no such thing as un pup” because it’s declined as a masculine noun right there.


      1. The DEX is on one hand a very dubious authority on the Romanian language (according to it, the p words do not exist, for instance) and more to the point, cites it as a “familiar” regressive. That’s hardly a word, and most likely means one of the author’s cousins once heard it used by a drunk bystander while visiting the family of his fiancee.

        That aside, (eu) pup (tu) pupi are verbal forms, present tense. There’s no such noun, but you’re welcome to ask anyone you meet what they think “doi pupi” would be.


      2. Really, you’ve never ever heard phrases like “îți dau un pup să-ți treacă” or “da-i un pup lu’ tata?”. It’s true, it’s a word that you mostly use to talk to kids and probably not in all regions of the country, but it’s still a word. And I’d rather hear the words “un pup” every day instead of enduring the multitude of ways in which Romanian is butchered by its native speakers…

        As a side note, dexonline is really a compilation of more than one dictionary, and therefore, a more reliable language reference; feel free to look up the p words on the site if you still have doubts.


      1. My apologies, brain must be slightly confused, hence comment in Romanian. I said “well, it exists, at least in Muntenia, where “da si mie un pup” – “give me a kiss” is frequently used”.


  5. I’m not sure how “va pup” could ever be “formal” unless on goes around smooching strangers. :)

    I could have sworn that my entire life my family members have been greeting and good-bying each other with “te/va sarut” during the Euro kiss. And “te pup” is for when I sign off letters/cards/phonecalls (and in-person good-byes) to my grandmothers.


  6. Pup is the verb but the noun would be “pupic” as in “I-a dat un pupic”. It can have a romantic connotation when used as “pupic dulce” (a sweet kiss).

    And let’s not forget about “sarut mana!” (“I kiss your hand!”), an old-fashion expression used by men to greet women (you don’t actually kiss the hand, but you may if you want). Sometimes, is used by women too, but only to greet older relatives or friends’ parents. My wife (in her 40’s) absolutely hates it when our friends use that expression, so beware, if you use it, you can be considered old-fashioned and unsophisticated. However, you get a special dispense when you use it towards your mother or your mother-in-law.


    1. I’ve definitely heard my dad (and uncle) frequently use “sarut mana” when greeting female friends and relatives, both in person and on the phone (for international calls “back home”). It’s one of those phrases that if you hear often enough, your brain no longer hears the bizarre “I kiss your hand!” but rather automatically interprets it as “hello!”, which is probably why I never realized it was only spoken by men to older women.


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