This article needs attention from an expert in Linguistics. The specific problem is: article to this date has been nearly entirely derived from editor WP:OR based on dictionaries and OR-derived literature appearances, rather than secondary source discussions—etymologic, linguistic, and otherwise—of the idiom.See the talk page for details. WikiProject Linguistics (or its Portal) may be able to help recruit an expert.(November 2015)
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This section requires expansion with: usage descriptions from good secondary sources, especially highlighting changes in usage, and esp. in the missing 17th century, and all points between the early 1700's to the early 1900's (the only two time-points currently covered). (November 2015)
The phrase appears in a section entitled "Sad"—in the Aeolus episode—in James Joyce's novel, Ulysses (1918), at the end of a description of the behaviour newspaper men: "Funny the way the newspaper men veer about when they get wind of a new opening. Weathercocks. Hot and cold in the same breath. Wouldn't know which to believe. One story good till you hear the next. Go for one another baldheaded in the papers and then all blows over. Hailfellow well met the next moment."[non-primary source needed][Relevance?]
In modern English, the idiom is defined as "heartily friendly and congenial, comradely, hail-fellow—characteristic of or befitting a friend; 'friendly advice'; 'a friendly neighborhood'; 'the only friendly person here'; 'a friendly host and hostess'."[clarification needed] As such, the idiom is used as an exaggerated greeting, or as a description of a personality type. Hence, modern use of the term tends to be deliberately archaic,[according to whom?] with overtones of over-familiarity in the person so described (almost always male), or as a deliberate, tongue in cheek term of endearment; in the latter case it heightens the effect of the greeting of an unexpected friend (as in "the only friendly person here"[this quote needs a citation]), or to communicate the idea of a friend in an otherwise unfriendly environment.
In modern use, the idiom can also be used as a pejorative to describe a person—again, usually male—who is skilled at making superficial friendships or can ingratiate themselves quickly with any company at hand (a connotation, which per the OED's entry on "hail fellow," dates to at least the 17th century).[full citation needed]
Kuiper uses the fact that this idiom is a phrase that is a part of the English lexicon (technically, a "phrasal lexical item"), and that there are different ways that the expression can be presented—for instance, as the common "hail-fellow-well-met," which appears as a modifier before the noun it modifies,versus the more original greeting form of "Hail fellow. Well met"; these variants are given as an example to explain how changes between the two (deformation), performed for the sake of artistry in writing (i.e., artistic deformation), can move alternative interpretations to the foreground (i.e., can create "syntactic ambiguity"); that is, ambiguity can be foregrounded by artistic deformation, including, Kuiper notes, toward the end of creating humorous interpretations.
^Somerset Maugham, William (1915) . Of Human Bondage. New York, NY, USA: Grosset & Dunlap. p. 561. Retrieved 5 November 2015. He had a persuasive hail-fellow well-met air with him which appealed to customers of this sort...
^The appearance of the idiom before the noun it modifies classifies its use in this case as a "prenominal modifier." See Kuiper (2007), op. cit., [Needed here is a further citation to define the term.], and Maugham (1915), op. cit. for an example.
^Given that this term is not defined from a reliable source at the linked article, needed here is a further citation to define the term.