Related Searches

said hello


[he-loh, huh-, hel-oh]
Hello is a salutation or greeting in the English language and is synonymous with other greetings such as hi or hey. Hello was recorded in dictionaries in 1883.

First use

Many stories date the first use of hello (with that spelling) to around the time of the invention of the telephone in 1876. It was, however, used in print in Roughing It by Mark Twain in 1872 (written between 1870 and 1871), so its first use must have predated the telephone:

Earlier uses can be found back to 1849 and 1846:

It was listed in dictionaries by 1883.

The word was extensively used in literature by the 1860s. Two early uses of hello can be found as far back as 1826.



According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hello is an alteration of hallo, hollo, which came from Old High German "halâ, holâ, emphatic imper[ative] of halôn, holôn to fetch, used esp[ecially] in hailing a ferryman. 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').


The word hello has also been credited to Thomas Edison, specifically as a way to greet someone when answering the telephone; according to one source, he expressed his surprise with a misheard Hullo. Alexander Graham Bell initially used Ahoy-hoy (as used on ships) as a telephone greeting. However, in 1877, Edison wrote to T.B.A. David, the president of the Central District and Printing Telegraph Company of Pittsburgh:

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


Hello may also be derived from Hullo. Hullo was in use before hello and was used as a greeting and also an expression of surprise. Charles Dickens uses it in Chapter 8 of Oliver Twist in 1838 when Oliver meets the Artful Dodger:

It was in use in both senses by the time Tom Brown's Schooldays was published in 1857 (although the book was set in the 1830s so it may have been in use by then):

  • "'Hullo though,' says East, pulling up, and taking another look at Tom; 'this'll never do...'"
  • "Hullo, Brown! where do you come from?"

Although much less common than it used to be, the word hullo is still in use, mainly in British English.


Hello is alternatively thought to come from the word hallo (1840) via hollo (also holla, holloa, halloo, halloa). The definition of hollo is to shout or an exclamation originally shouted in a hunt when the quarry was spotted:

Hallo is also German, Norwegian and Dutch for Hello.

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). 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. Hǽlan is likely a cognate of German Heil and other similar words of Germanic origin.

"Hello, World" computer program

Students learning a new computer programming language will often begin by writing a "Hello, world!" program, which outputs that greeting to a display screen or printer. The widespread use of this tradition arose from an introductory chapter of the book The C Programming Language by Kernighan & Ritchie, which reused the following example taken from earlier memos by Brian Kernighan at Bell Labs:


In 1997, Leonso Canales Jr. from Kingsville, Texas convinced Kleberg County commissioners to designate "heaven-o" as the county's official greeting, on the grounds that the greeting "hello" contains the word "hell", and that the proposed alternative sounds more "positive". "Hello", however, is not etymologically related to "hell".

Perception of "Hello" in other nations

In some other nations, especially ones that had little contact with foreigners at the time, Westerners were often viewed as people who constantly said "hello" and little else. Jung Chang describes this view as follows:

Of course, in many other nations "hello" is no longer considered foreign, as evidenced by the number of people that have adopted it into their own language (as in French âllo).


External links

Search another word or see said helloon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature