Ask a question

What is hello?

Meaning of hello. Who made the word hello.


Hello is a form of greeting in the English language.  In fact, not every language has a greeting translated to 'hello.'  For instance, in Korean, "An-neung" is the official form of greeting, and it is translated to 'be well.'  Every language has their own form of greeting, many of which can be translated to 'hello.' 

8 Answers by Expert Tutors

Tutors, sign in to answer this question.
Stacey S. | Stanford Educated Tutor with 20 years Professional ExperienceStanford Educated Tutor with 20 years Pr...
5.0 5.0 (86 lesson ratings) (86)

Its current popularization as "HELLO" meaning "greetings" especially used to start phone converations coincided with the rising use of the telephone in the late 1800's. Alexander Graham Bell had actually favored "Ahoy" instead of "hello." Ahoy normally has its association with calling out upon sailing ships, boats, ferries and all other types of sea vessels. The ancestral origin of the word "hello", in all likelihood, does as well.

The word hello has its origins (according to the Online Etymology Dictionary) in Continental/European usage with the most logical and historic connection at least as early as 1400 to the German "hala/hola" which is the imperative of "hollen" which means to fetch". It was used to get the attention of people far away on a ferry boat by those who wanted to hitch a ride by yelling out to the ferryman "HALLO!" (fetch me over here!). 

For OED references, see:

and for Collins German translation of "fetch":

and ;

where you will find

According to Merriam Webster: hello- an expression or gesture of greeting —used interjectionally in greeting, in answering the telephone, or to express surprise

Brian W. | Highly qualified writing, english, reading, and vocabulary tutorHighly qualified writing, english, readi...
5.0 5.0 (12 lesson ratings) (12)

Hello was actually borrowed by the English in the middle ages from the french ho la.  It was used as a shout or call and indicated pay attention to me.  The word was changed by the English again and again in the 1500s and 1600s to eventually a call of hulloo or haloo.  Then a gradual English shift to the present hello.  Thus, the French really invented it, but the evolution of the word was actually English.  Hope this helps.


SUZI S. | English Vocabulary, proof reading and ESL. English Vocabulary, proof reading and ES...

This a greeting or salutation.  One can use it answering the phone, when meeting people or when writing someone known to you.  Recently, the word "Hello" has been used as slang for "Am I right?" or "Do I make sense", i.e., "He really upset me - hello!"

Larry K. | Results Matter . . .Results Matter . . .
Hello is an alteration of hallo -- a shout to call attention. Hello dates back to about 1883 and has become the most used greeting, especially on the telephone. Hello can be used to express surprise and it can be used as a verb with the inflected forms being; helloed, helloing, helloes.
Stefany S. | Providing help in Math, Study Skills, and Test Prep for All GradesProviding help in Math, Study Skills, an...
5.0 5.0 (58 lesson ratings) (58)

Here are some etymology references on the orign of "hello".. Hope that helps. Please remember to click the thumbs up if this helped you! Thank you :)

Suzanne M. | English Tutor: Literature, Reading, Grammar, Writing, VocabularyEnglish Tutor: Literature, Reading, Gram...
4.0 4.0 (2 lesson ratings) (2)

Let's make it simple: "Hello" is a greeting to invite someone else into interaction, and its part of speech would be an Interjection; therefore, if you start a written sentence with "Hello", you would need to place a comma after it to write the rest of your complete sentence. 

Kassie S. | Miss Kassie ExcellentMiss Kassie Excellent

People have started using this word as a starter in the telephone conversation. Hello is simply a greeting as an salutation nothing more. Also it didnt exist in english language but Thomas Edison invented that word as a way of greeting a caller on the phone.

Eleanor C. | Experienced, effective teacher of language and literacy skills.Experienced, effective teacher of langua...
5.0 5.0 (7 lesson ratings) (7)

Language evolves over time. The reference to the German verb to fetch, now known as "holen" when hailing a ferryman is interesting. Look at how all languages pick up on others: hello, hallo (german) , hola (spanish). Evolution and adopted words creep into our languages all the time.