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hello

[he-loh, huh-, hel-oh]
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interjection
  1. (used to express a greeting, answer a telephone, or attract attention.)
  2. (an exclamation of surprise, wonder, elation, etc.)
  3. (used derisively to question the comprehension, intelligence, or common sense of the person being addressed): You're gonna go out with him? Hello!
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noun, plural hel·los.
  1. the call “hello” (used as an expression of greeting): She gave me a warm hello.
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verb (used without object), hel·loed, hel·lo·ing.
  1. to say “hello”; to cry or shout: I helloed, but no one answered.
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verb (used with object), hel·loed, hel·lo·ing.
  1. to say “hello” to (someone): We helloed each other as though nothing had happened.
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Also especially British, hullo.

Origin of hello

First recorded in 1865–70; variant of hallo
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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.

  • 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

hello

hallo or hullo

sentence substitute
  1. an expression of greeting used on meeting a person or at the start of a telephone call
  2. a call used to attract attention
  3. an expression of surprise
  4. an expression used to indicate that the speaker thinks his or her listener is naive or slow to realize somethingHello? Have you been on Mars for the past two weeks or something?
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noun plural -los
  1. the act of saying or calling "hello"
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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

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]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper