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This article claims that "hello" predates the telephone by 300 years but the earliest citation in the Oxford English Dictionary 1883 (as an interjection).

Yes, the version I've heard is that the word "hello" was a pre-existing word, but was adopted as a salutation for the telephone. Whether the story is true or not, I don't know, but (apart from this entry) I've never heard the claim that the word "hello" did not actually exist at all before that time.
--Dudegalea 12:05, 22 May 2005 (UTC)

I don't know about the OED, but Mark Twain's 1872 book "Roughing It" contains at least 3 instances of the word, with its modern American spelling. They are in Chaps. 37 and 40, and in Appendix C. This predates the telephone by a few years. Jim Reeds True that!--Darrendeng 10:48, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

UK colloquial synonyms[edit]

why not include "alright" or "all right"? it's pretty common, just as much as actually saying "hello" in many places - reference:

Also "easy" for the same reasons: 20:27, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

"All right" apparently comes from a question (i.e. "are you all right?", "are things all right?") so it seems like more of a synonym for how are you. Then again, a response is often not expected. Equinox 23:02, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Edison did not favor "ahoy"[edit]

Edison did not favor "ahoy". Although Edison did not invent the word hello, the standard usage of it via telephone can arguably be attributed to him. Alledgedly it was Bell who favored "ahoy".

(moved from article to discussion page by Nathanael Bar-Aur L. 03:17, 8 December 2006 (UTC))

Frisian Hoi, Hallo[edit]

That is correct. Mallerd 20:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Correct for which sense? There are five different senses listed. —Stephen 13:30, 4 January 2007 (UTC)
Oh sorry, it's just like dutch correct in all senses. Mallerd 20:32, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Hello is correct! Cloudbreath9 01:54, 1 February 2007 (UTC)


Can't hello be a noun too? As in "I got a hello from her". At least some people somewhere use it that way, but it's most probably not formal. If it can be a noun, then its plural should be stated, as it might not be obvious to everyone. 23:36, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

That's actually using a word by mention. I would punctuate that sentence as "I got a 'hello' from her." You could equally say "He let out an 'Ayee!'", but it doesn't mean that Ayee! is a noun. --EncycloPetey 04:28, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

Do People Still Say That?[edit]

Usage of the word 'howdy', at least as a traditional greeting, (non-traditional being something such as "What's shakin'?" or "Krispy Kringles, y'all!") I am fairly certain has become almost dead because it has been replaced by the other terms listed already. I'm from Houston, live in Dallas (or McKinney), and all my family/friends live in the south (Austin, San Antonio, Orange, Katy, Sugarland, Baton Rouge, Atlanta, Houston and all the cities near McKinney), and 'howdy' is completely dead in all those places, and I'm pretty sure it's not very common in the North or UK, either. So to wrap this all up, should we list howdy under U.S./U.K. synonym greetings, or maybe say it's obsolete or something? Either that or give me a place in continental U.S. that uses howdy still. 21:39, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

I’m from northeast Texas and I and my friends still say howdy from time to time. We’re mostly baby-boomers, so it might be obsolete among the younger crowd. —Stephen 07:58, 26 April 2008 (UTC)

Good day[edit]

I noticed this is included into several translations (Danish, Dutch, French, German...). However, good day has its own page and should be excluded from the translations here, unless its meaning is more informal in the target languages, than it is in English.

Each English word (not necessarily counting oblique or finite forms) gets its own translation section. Since many words in every language have synonyms, it will often happen that a translation of one word into a given language will be the same as that of another word. If we excluded a translation from a word because it already appears as the translation of another word, it would cripple the translation sections and make the concept unusable. If a word has three synonyms, with lots of overlapping translations, that is simply the nature of language, and it’s how we must do the translation sections. —Stephen 15:51, 1 November 2008 (UTC)


In some languages the expression for hello is not a mere greeting but also includes a notion of well-wishing. For example, the Urdu greeting السلام علیکم (āssālam ‘alaykum) means May peace be upon you.

This is trivia, not a usage note, even if it were it's in the English section...

Another etymology[edit]

  • Clifford W. Ashley in "The Yankee Whaler" (1926,1942) explains that "alow", in the whaling fleet refers to the deck, as distinguished from "aloft", and that the common hail from the masthead to the deck was "Alow, there!" He further attests that "There is little doubt that the landsman's hail, "Halloa!" is a corruption of "Alow". -- 14:33, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Phone and question the same?[edit]

Am I the only one who considers meaning two and three to be the same? When I answer the phone, the reason I think of for saying "Hello?" and only "Hello?" as opposed to "hi" etc. is because, silly as it usually is, I am verifying that someone is listening on the other end. - Estoy Aquí 00:53, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

The phone response need not be delivered as a question and often isn't in my experience. Hard to find reliable evidence on such a spoken-language phenomenon, though. DCDuring TALK * Holiday Greetings! 01:05, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
I still feel it shares the same sense as "hello" as a question, which is equally not interchangeable with other greetings. - Estoy Aquí 20:00, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Latin American Spanish?[edit]

I'm not sure how widespread this is but in Puerto Rico (lived there for 17 years) it is very common (almost universal) to say "hello" when starting a conversation by telephone. The same applies for 'bye'.

"Hello" when answering the phone is not a separate sense[edit]


It IS a separate sense and most languages have a different when answering the phone than just a greeting. You can't replace this hello with hi. --Anatoli 05:52, 16 February 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I often answer the phone with "hi", but that might be an oddity on my part. Equinox 12:41, 16 February 2011 (UTC)