In Star Trek lore, the Vulcans are a logical, passive race with telepathic abilities. Because of this, they generally refrain from physical contact with strangers. The famous "Vulcan Salute" is a result of this, and is often used in situations where a human would shake hands or grasp arms.

Vulcan salute

However, prior to the reforms introduced by Surak, the Vulcans were a far more emotional race similar to the Romulans. Romulans also seem to utilize hand gestures in greeting, albeit in a different manner. For instance, Romulan soldiers salute by placing their fist over their heart.

No other race in Star Trek uses hand gestures like this (not even humans any more), so it leads me to wonder if the salute gesture originated with Surak's reforms, or if it is even older within Vulcan culture.

What is the in-universe origin of the "Vulcan Salute" within Vulcan culture?

  • 11
    I've made it a little clearer that you're after the in-universe origin of the gesture. Otherwise you're gonna get a whole bunch of comments and answers about it being a Jewish gesture.
    – Valorum
    Jan 4, 2019 at 20:46
  • 1
    @Valorum - good point, thank you
    – Omegacron
    Jan 4, 2019 at 20:54
  • I seem to remember that this was touched on in ST-ENT, possibly in 'The Crucible' two part episodes but I'd have to rewatch the series to note any in-universe explanations.
    – user62584
    Jan 4, 2019 at 20:58
  • Mermory Alpha doesn't have anything about the in-universe origins, so there may not be an answer from canon.
    – Buzz
    Jan 5, 2019 at 4:42

1 Answer 1


As far as I know, they never devised an in-universe origin of the Vulcan salute. Since neither Memory Alpha nor Memory Beta or even the extensive biography of Gene Roddenberry talks about it, I'm inclined to say that nobody came up with an in-universe explanation for it, even in Extended Universe's works.

Spock's actor Leonard Nimoy came up with the gesture, the production went with it, it worked on screen and stuck in the minds of fans, then in the collective imagination, as a staple of Vulcans.

  • Unless you've read every single EU novel, comic, factbook, magazine and official trading card, I don't think we can quite so easily draw the conclusion that no-one came up with an in-universe explanation.
    – Valorum
    Jan 5, 2019 at 21:44
  • 3
    Thus why I've said 'As far as I know' and 'I'm inclined to say' and not 'There is no in-universe explanation.'
    – Sava
    Jan 5, 2019 at 21:51
  • 2
    Wait, wait, wait a second.... @Valorum... You can't say that and then not answer. I was under the distinct impression that you consumed the written word like a black hole consumes light. :)
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 6, 2019 at 16:40
  • 1
    @T.J.L. - I've read most Star Trek media but I'm always finding things I've never seen or read
    – Valorum
    Dec 6, 2019 at 17:15
  • I have heard that
    – user126198
    Feb 18, 2020 at 22:23

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