User:Softlavender/Old stuff/Hello

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Hello is a salutation or greeting in the English language. It is attested in writing as early as the 1830s.

First use[edit]

Hello, with that spelling, was used in publications as early as 1833. These include an 1833 American book called The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee,[1] which was reprinted that same year in The London Literary Gazette.[2]

The word was used extensively in literature by the 1860s.[3]


The use of hello as a telephone greeting has been credited to Thomas Edison. According to one source, he expressed his surprise with a misheard Hullo.[4] Alexander Graham Bell initially used Ahoy (as used on ships) as a telephone greeting.[5] However, in 1877, Edison wrote to T.B.A. David, the president of the Central District and Printing Telegraph Company of Pittsburgh:

Friend David, I do not think we shall need a call bell as Hello! can be heard 10 to 20 feet away.

What you think? Edison - P.S. first cost of sender & receiver to manufacture is only $7.00.

By 1889, central telephone exchange operators were known as 'hello-girls' due to the association between the greeting and the telephone.[6]

Hollo, hallo, hullo, and other variants[edit]

Hello derives from the words hallo and hullo, from the original word hollo or holla and its changing variants over the centuries, which include: halloa, holloa, and its more modern variants hallo, halloo, and hullo.[7] All of these words have two or more or all of these meanings:

  • a huntsman's shout to hounds when quarry is sighted[7]
  • a shout for attention or summons
  • shouting of any sort
  • an exclamation of surprise
  • a greeting from a distance
  • a cry to urge a horse to speed

Holla is found in literature as early as 1592, in Thomas Nashe's Pierce Penniless and Four Letters, and it also appears in Shakespeare's 1593 Venus and Adonis as call urging a horse to speed. Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio of plays uses holla in 10 instances: as shout for attention, a shout, and a hunting call.[8] In 1749, Henry Fielding describes Tom Jones:

The Squire sent after his Sister the same Holla which attends the Departure of a Hare, when she is first started before the Hounds. He was indeed a great Master of this kind of Vociferation, and had a Holla proper for most Occasions in Life.[9]

By 1767, holla has an entry in a grammar book, and by 1795, it has a dictionary definition.

Hollo appears in print in 1592, in Robert Greene's play George a Greene. Shakespeare, in the 1623 First Folio of his plays, uses hollo and its early variant hollow three times, as an exclamation of surprise, a shout for recognition, and a hunting call.[10]

If I flye, Marcius, hollow me like a hare.

— Coriolanus (I:1)

Hollo is used again in Samuel Richardson's Pamela in 1740, and is used often thereafter as well, chiefly as a summons to servants, but also as a greeting from a distance. By 1797 hollo has a dictionary entry. It is used in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner written in 1798:

And a good south wind sprung up behind,

The Albatross did follow;
And every day for food or play
Came to the Marinere's hollo!

Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio of plays uses hallow (the early spelling of hallo) six times, as a shout, call, or a hunting cry.[11] John Milton uses the same spelling of hallow to mean "shout" in 1634 in Comus. Daniel Defoe does likewise in 1719 in Robinson Crusoe, considered the first English-language novel.

By 1678, Thomas Otway uses the spelling halloo, in his Friendship in Fashion. And by 1790, halloo has a dictionary entry. Coleridge uses it in 1796 in "Fire, Famine, and Slaughter"; and Jane Austen uses it in Mansfield Park in 1814.

By 1740, hallo was in use in publications as a shouted greeting, and occasionally as a hunting call.[12]

Holloa appears in Tobias Smollett's 1748 novel The Adventures of Roderick Random, and appears regularly in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with all of the various meanings noted above, including as a sailor's greeting or response.[citation needed] The variant halloa is found in literature as early as 1771.

Hullo is found in publications as early as 1803.[13] The word hullo is also still in use in Britain, mainly as a variant of hello.[7]

Other variants in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and with the same meanings, include hillo, hilloa, and hulloo.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hello is an alteration of hallo, hollo,[14] which came from Old High German "halâ, holâ, emphatic imper[ative] of halôn, holôn to fetch, used esp[ecially] in hailing a ferryman."[15] It also connects the development of hello to the influence of an earlier form, holla, whose origin is in the French holà (roughly, 'whoa there!', from French 'there').[16]

Webster's dictionary from 1913 traces the etymology of holloa to the Old English halow and suggests: "Perhaps from ah + lo; compare Anglo Saxon ealā."

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, hallo is a modification of the obsolete holla (stop!), perhaps from Old French hola (ho, ho! + la, there, from Latin illac, that way).[17] Hallo is also used by many famous authors like Enid Blyton. Example:"Hallo!", chorused the 600 children.

The Old English verb, hǽlan (1. wv/t1b 1 to heal, cure, save; greet, salute; gehǽl! Hosanna!), may be the ultimate origin of the word.[18] Hǽlan is likely a cognate of German Heil and other similar words of Germanic origin.


[original research?] "Hello" is found as a loanword in many other languages. It is often only used when answering the telephone, or as an informal greeting.

Language Cognate Usage
Afrikaans hallo
Arabic allo?, Hala? when answering the telephone
Bengali haelo! when answering the telephone
Bulgarian ало (alo) when answering the telephone
Catalan hola! friendly (informal) greeting
Croatian halo? when answering the telephone
Dutch hallo!
Estonian hallo; halloo when answering the telephone
Finnish haloo? when answering the telephone
French allô? when answering the telephone
German hallo!
Gujarati hello! when answering the telephone
Hungarian helló! friendly (informal) greeting
halló! when answering the telephone
Hebrew הָלוֹ (hallo) when answering the telephone
Kannada halloa when answering the telephone
Lithuanian alio? when answering the telephone
Macedonian ало (alo) when answering the telephone
Marathi hello when answering the telephone
Norwegian hallo! General greeting
Portuguese alô? when answering the telephone
Romanian alo when answering the telephone
Russian алло (allo), алё when answering the telephone
Spanish ¡hola! friendly (informal) greeting
¿aló? (Latin America) when answering the telephone
Swedish hallå!
Tagalog helo!
Turkish alo! when answering the telephone

See also[edit]

Greetings in other languages


  1. ^ (Anonymous). The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee. New York: J. & J. Harper, 1833. p. 144.
  2. ^ "The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col. David Crockett, of West Tennessee." The London Literary Gazette; and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c. No. 883: December 21, 1833. p. 803.
  3. ^ GoogleBooks results for 1833–1870
  4. ^ Allen Koenigsberg. "The First "Hello!": Thomas Edison, the Phonograph and the Telephone – Part 2". Antique Phonograph Magazine, Vol.VIII No.6. Retrieved 2006-09-13. 
  5. ^ Allen Koenigsberg (1999). "All Things Considered". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2006-09-13. 
  6. ^ "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  7. ^ a b c "Hello". Merriam-Webster Online.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "MW" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  8. ^ Results generated by The First Folio of Shakespeare: Search Form for holla
  9. ^ Fielding, Henry. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Volume III. London: A. Millar, 1749. p. 23.
  10. ^ Results generated by The First Folio of Shakespeare: Search Form for hollo, hollowing, hollow
  11. ^ Results generated by The First Folio of Shakespeare: Search Form for hallow, hallowed, hallow'd, hallowing
  12. ^ GoogleBooks search result for "hallo"
  13. ^ The Sporting Magazine. London (1803). Volume 23, p. 12.
  14. ^ "Hello." Oxford English Dictionary Online. Second Edition, 1989. Oxford University Press. Accessed 09 Sep 2008.
  15. ^ "Hallo." OED Online. Second Edition, 1989. Oxford University Press. Accessed 09 Sep 2008.
  16. ^ "holla, int. and n.". OED Online. Accessed October 4, 2008.
  17. ^ "Hello". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. Retrieved 2006-09-01. 
  18. ^ OEME Dictionaries

External links[edit]

de:Hallo es:Hola fr:Bonjour it:Ciao he:הלו nn:Hallo pt:Oi ru:Алло simple:Hello tr:Günaydin vec:Ciao zh:Hello