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!

noun, plural hel·los.

  1. the call “hello” (used as an expression of greeting): She gave me a warm hello.

verb (used without object), hel·loed, hel·lo·ing.

  1. to say “hello”; to cry or shout: I helloed, but no one answered.

verb (used with object), hel·loed, hel·lo·ing.

  1. to say “hello” to (someone): We helloed each other as though nothing had happened.

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?

noun plural -los

  1. the act of saying or calling “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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