One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally, addressed to the emperor by gladiators in ancient Rome on entering the arena, in anticipation of their death: ‘Those about to die salute you!’ Later allusively, used by a person who is aware of facing imminent danger, hardship, or possible death.
Early 18th century; earliest use found in Basil Kennett (1674–1715), antiquary and translator. From classical Latin moritūri tē salūtant those about to die salute you from moritūri, plural of future participle of morī to die + tē you + salūtant, 3rd person plural present indicative of salūtāre.
morituri te salutant/mɒrɪˈtʊərɪ teɪ saˈluːtant/
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