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[he-loh, huh-, hel-oh] /hɛˈloʊ, hə-, ˈhɛl oʊ/
(used to express a greeting, answer a telephone, or attract attention.)
(an exclamation of surprise, wonder, elation, etc.)
(used derisively to question the comprehension, intelligence, or common sense of the person being addressed):
You're gonna go out with him? Hello!
noun, plural hellos.
the call “hello” (used as an expression of greeting):
She gave me a warm hello.
verb (used without object), helloed, helloing.
to say “hello”; to cry or shout:
I helloed, but no one answered.
verb (used with object), helloed, helloing.
to say “hello” to (someone):
We helloed each other as though nothing had happened.
Also, especially British, hullo.
Origin of hello
First recorded in 1865-70; variant of hallo Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hello
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Red he sees my pard passing a saloon, and he says, 'hello, where did you come from?

    A Woman Tenderfoot Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
  • And then, catching sight of Kirkwood's countenance: "Why, hello, Kirkwood!"

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • "hello yourself and see how you like it," the mascot of the Ravens called down.

    Pee-wee Harris Percy Keese Fitzhugh
  • "hello, old man," he cried, shaking Trenton warmly by the hand.

    One Day's Courtship Robert Barr
  • Why couldn't he ask me how I felt or pull my ear and say "hello, Puss?"

    The Harbor Ernest Poole
British Dictionary definitions for hello


/hɛˈləʊ; hə-; ˈhɛləʊ/
sentence substitute
an expression of greeting used on meeting a person or at the start of a telephone call
a call used to attract attention
an expression of surprise
an expression used to indicate that the speaker thinks his or her listener is naive or slow to realize something: Hello? Have you been on Mars for the past two weeks or something?
noun (pl) -los
the act of saying or calling "hello"
Word Origin
C19: see hallo
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hello

1883, alteration of hallo, itself an alteration of holla, hollo, a shout to attract attention, which seems to go back to at least c.1400. Perhaps from holla! "stop, cease." OED cites Old High German hala, hola, emphatic imperative of halon, holon "to fetch," "used especially in hailing a ferryman." Fowler lists halloo, hallo, halloa, halloo, hello, hillo, hilloa, holla, holler, hollo, holloa, hollow, hullo, and writes, "The multiplicity of forms is bewildering ...." Popularity as a greeting coincides with use of the telephone, where it won out over Alexander Graham Bell's suggestion, ahoy. Central telephone exchange operators were known as hello-girls (1889).

Hello, formerly an Americanism, is now nearly as common as hullo in Britain (Say who you are; do not just say 'hello' is the warning given in our telephone directories) and the Englishman cannot be expected to give up the right to say hello if he likes it better than his native hullo. [H.W. Fowler, "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage," 1926]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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