While the English word saint originated in Christianity, historians of religion now use the appellation "in a more general way to refer to the state of special holiness that many religions attribute to certain people", with the Jewish tzadik, the Islamic walī, the Hindu rishi or Sikh guru, and the Buddhist arhat or bodhisattva also being referred to as saints. Depending on the religion, saints are recognized either by official ecclesiastical declaration, as in the Catholic faith, or by popular acclamation (see Folk saint).
The English word "saint" comes from the Latin "sanctus". The word translated the Greek "ἅγιος" (hagios), which derives from the verb ἁγιάζω (hagiazo), which means "to set apart", "to sanctify", or "to make holy". The word ἅγιος appears 229 times in the Greek New Testament, and its English translation 60 times in the corresponding text of the King James Version of the Bible.
The word sanctus was originally a technical one in ancient Roman religion, but due to its "globalized" use in Christianity the modern word "saint" in English and its equivalent in Romance languages is now also used as a translation of comparable terms for persons "worthy of veneration for their holiness or sanctity" in other religions.
Many religions also use similar concepts (but different terminology) to venerate persons worthy of some honor. Author John A. Coleman (Society of Jesus, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California) wrote that saints across various cultures and religions have the following family resemblances: