is a salutation
in the English language
and is synonymous
with other greetings such as hi
was recorded in dictionaries in 1883.
Many stories date the first use of hello
(with that spelling) to around the time of the invention of the telephone
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
is an alteration of hallo
, which came from Old High German
, emphatic imper[ative] of halôn
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 là
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.
may also be derived from 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.
is alternatively thought to come from the word hallo
(1840) via hollo
). 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).