The word was extensively used in literature by the 1860s.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary,hello is an alteration of hallo, hollo, which came from Old High German "halâ, holâ, emphatic imper[ative] of halôn, holôn to fetch, used esp[ecially] in hailing a ferryman." It also connects the development of hello to the influence of an earlier form, holla, whose origin is in the French holà (roughly, 'whoa there!', from French là 'there'). As in addition to hello, hallo and hollo, hulloand (rarely) hillo also exist as variants or related words, the word can be spelt using any of all five vowels.
The use of hello as a telephone greeting has been credited to Thomas Edison; according to one source, he expressed his surprise with a misheard Hullo. Alexander Graham Bell initially used Ahoy (as used on ships) as a telephone greeting. However, in 1877, Edison wroteto T.B.A. David, the president of the Central District and Printing Telegraph Company of Pittsburgh:
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 theassociation between the greeting and the telephone.
Hello may be derived from Hullo, which the American Merriam-Webster dictionary describes as a "chiefly British variant of hello," and which was originally used as an exclamation to call attention, an expression of surprise, or a greeting. Hullo is found in publications as early as 1803. The word hullo is still in use, with themeaning hello.
Hello is alternatively thought to come from the word hallo (1840) via hollo (also holla, holloa, halloo, halloa). The definition of hollo is to shout or an exclamation originally shouted in a hunt when the quarry was spotted: Fowler's has it that "hallo" is first recorded "as a shout to call attention" in 1864.
It is used by Samuel TaylorColeridge's famous poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner written in 1798:
And the good south wind still blew behind,
But no sweet bird did follow, Nor any day for food or play Came to the mariners' hollo!
Hallo is also German, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch and Afrikaans for Hello.
If I fly, Marcius,/Halloo me like a hare.
—Coriolanus (I.viii.7), William Shakespeare
Webster's dictionary from 1913 traces theetymology of holloa to the Old English halow and suggests: "Perhaps from ah + lo; compare Anglo Saxon ealā."
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, hallo is a modification of the obsolete holla (stop!), perhaps from Old French hola (ho, ho! + la, there, from Latin illac, that way). 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. Bill Bryson asserts in his book Mother Tongue that "hello" comes from Old English hál béo þu ("Hale be thou", or "whole be thou", meaning a wish for good health).
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The word "hello" is found in many other languages. It is often only used when answering the telephone, or as an informal greeting.
Language Cognate Usage...