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See also: helló and ħello


Alternative forms[edit]


Hello (first attested in 1833), from holla, hollo (attested 1588). This variant of hallo is often credited to Thomas Edison as a coinage for telephone use, but its appearance in print predates the invention of the telephone by several decades.

Ultimately from a variant of Old English ēalā, such as hēlā, which was used colloquially at the time similarly to how hey and hi are used nowadays. Thus, equivalent to a compound of hey and lo.

Possibly influenced by Old Saxon halōn, imperative halo!, ("to bring something, gather"), akin to English hale or hail (Old English geholian). More at hallo.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /həˈləʊ/, /hɛˈləʊ/
  • (US) enPR: hĕ-lō', hə-lō', IPA(key): /hɛˈloʊ/, /həˈloʊ/
  • (file)
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Sense UK US
(telephone greeting):
(call for response):
(sarcastic implication):
(expressing puzzlement):



  1. A greeting (salutation) said when meeting someone or acknowledging someone’s arrival or presence.
    Hello, everyone.
  2. A greeting used when answering the telephone.
    Hello? How may I help you?
  3. A call for response if it is not clear if anyone is present or listening, or if a telephone conversation may have been disconnected.
    Hello? Is anyone there?
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 7, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      I made a speaking trumpet of my hands and commenced to whoop “Ahoy!” and “Hello!” at the top of my lungs. [] The Colonel woke up, and, after asking what in brimstone was the matter, opened his mouth and roared “Hi!” and “Hello!” like the bull of Bashan.
  4. (colloquial) Used sarcastically to imply that the person addressed or referred to has done something the speaker or writer considers to be foolish.
    You just tried to start your car with your cell phone. Hello?
  5. (chiefly Britain) An expression of puzzlement or discovery.
    Hello! What’s going on here?

Usage notes[edit]

  • The greeting hello is among the most universal and neutral in use. It may be heard in nearly all social situations and in nearly all walks of life, and is unlikely to cause offense.




Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


hello (plural hellos or helloes)

  1. "Hello!" or an equivalent greeting.
    • 2007 April 29, Stephanie Rosenbloom, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, in New York Times[1]:
      In many new buildings, though, neighbors are venturing beyond tight-lipped hellos at the mailbox.



hello (third-person singular simple present hellos, present participle helloing, simple past and past participle helloed)

  1. (transitive) To greet with "hello".
    • 2013, Ivan Doig, English Creek, page 139:
      I had to traipse around somewhat, helloing people and being helloed, before I spotted my mother and my father, sharing shade and a spread blanket with Pete and Marie Reese and Toussaint Rennie near the back of the park.