AskDefine | Define hallo

User Contributed Dictionary


Etymology 1

Variant of hollo, which was a variant of holla from Middle French hola (equivalent to ho ahoy + la there). See also: holler.

Etymology 2

From the Hungarian "hallom", which means "I do hear you". When the first long-distance telephone connection was tested by Tivadar Puskás and Edison on April 2, 1878, Puskás repeatedly and vehemently used the word "hallom" to respond. It became an "insider phrase" for telephone exchange testers, and later used in the USA to respond to telephone calls, from where it started to spread (and ultimately it have reached Hungary again, where it is used as well).


  1. A variant of hello
  2. A cry of surprise.


  1. The cry "hallo!"
  2. A shout of exultation.


  1. To shout, or to call with a loud voice.
  2. To chase while shouting "hallo!"
  3. To cry "hallo" (to someone).
  4. To shout (something).




  1. hello (a general greeting used when meeting somebody)



  1. hello (a greeting usually used to answer the telephone)



  • /ˈhaloː/ or /haˈloː/


  1. hello (a general greeting used when meeting somebody)



  1. hello (a greeting usually used to answer the telephone or when meeting somebody)



  1. hello (greeting)

Extensive Definition

Hello is a salutation or greeting in the English language and is synonymous with other greetings such as Hi or Hey. Hello was recorded in dictionaries in 1883.

First use

Many stories date the first use of hello (with that spelling) to around the time of the invention of the telephone in 1876. 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:
A miner came out and said: 'Hello!'
Earlier uses can be found back to 1849 and 1846:
We meet the boys here, and it is "Hello, George," or "Hello, Jim." We slap the judge of the Supreme Court on the back with a "Hello, Joe, how are you?"Charles Edwards Lester
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.
Examples: On this occasion she switched it on to a patient who was awake and who merely said 'Hello Sister, what's the matter with you...'Report on the trade in foreign corn, and on the agriculture of the north of Europe. by William Jacob, 1826. page 213
Then hello boys! Hello boys! Shout and huzz....The Every-day Book: Or Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, Sports, Pastime, Ceremonies,...By William Hone, 1826 Page 1370


There are many different theories to the origins of the word. It might be a contraction of archaic English "whole be thou". Another source has been suggested to be the phrase "Hail, Thou", as used in some translations of the Bible (see Luke 1:28 and Matthew 27:14 for examples).


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 Pittsburg:
Friend David, I do not think we shall need a call bell as Hello! can be heard 10 to 20 feet away. What you think? Edison - P.S. first cost of sender & receiver to manufacture is only $7.00.
By 1889, central telephone exchange operators were known as 'hello-girls' due to the association between the greeting and the telephone. The definition of hollo is to shout or an exclamation originally shouted in a hunt when the quarry was spotted: 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".


hallo in German: Hallo
hallo in Spanish: Hola
hallo in French: Bonjour
hallo in Italian: Ciao
hallo in Norwegian Nynorsk: Hallo
hallo in Portuguese: Oi
hallo in Russian: Алло
hallo in Simple English: Hello
hallo in Turkish: Günaydin
hallo in Venetian: Ciao
hallo in Chinese: Hello
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