"h......is for"

I'm following along again with Toni's "a....is for" meme.
Feel free to join in anytime, Toni won't mind at all.

This week's letter is H.
h.....is for hello.

The following passage has been taken from the book I'm currently reading.
"Gone Tomorrow" - a Jack Reacher story by Lee Child.

It could be fact, it could be fiction, I have* no way of knowing.
But I liked it, so here* it is.

"One of the dog walkers came close enough to speak. The dog was an elderly grey mutt and the walker was an elderly white woman of about eighty. Her hair* was done and she was fully made up. She was wearing an old-fashioned summer dress that really needed long white gloves to be complete. The dog paused and looked at me mournfully and the woman took that to be a sufficient social introduction.
She said "Good evening".
It was close to three o'clock and therefore morning, but I didn't want to appear quarrelsome.
So I just said "hello".
She said, "did you know that word is a recent invention?"
I said "what word?"
"Hello", she said. "It was developed as a greeting only after the invention of the telephone. People felt they needed something to say when they picked up the receiver. It was a corruption of the old word Halloo. Which was really an expression of temporary shock or surprise. You would come upon something unexpected, and you would go Halloo! Perhaps people were startled by the shrillness of the telephone bell".
"Yes", I said, "perhaps they were".
"Do you have a telephone?"
"I've used them", I said. "Certainly I've heard* them ring".
"Do you find the sound to be disturbing?"
"I always assumed that was the point".
"Well, goodbye", the woman said, "it has* been most pleasant chatting with you".
Only in New York, I thought......

So what do you think?
Is hello a relatively new word and not as old as the rest of human* speech?

* = more "h" words.


  1. I'm not sure but dear old Sheldon Cooper mentions it in a BBT episode and also said that the planned telephone greeting was intended to be 'ahoy' !

  2. This is what googling gets you:

    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.[9] Alexander Graham Bell initially used Ahoy (as used on ships) as a telephone greeting.[10][11] However, in 1877, Edison wrote to 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.[12]

    By 1889, central telephone exchange operators were known as 'hello-girls' due to the association between the greeting and the telephone

  3. I understood it is modern and darned if Delores hasn't gone and researched it for us. She gets and A and goes to the *head* of the class.

  4. I believe the French telephone greeting is 'Allo', so I wonder where THAT came from?!?!

  5. Kath Lockett; I'd forgotten about Sheldon's "ahoy".

    Delores; thank you for the research, I like the idea of the exchange operators being called Hello girls.

    Joanne Noragon; An A and a gold star I think.

    Red Nomad OZ; in the French language the H is often silent, for instance Hallo is 'allo, Hotel is 'otel and so on. I remember my high school French teacher being extremely annoyed when the boys in the class all made fun by dropping the H on every word even when not necessary.

  6. My Italian language studies showed they say 'pronto' when answering the phone. I knew a girl who said 'hey' quite a lot, just letting me know she knew where my hand was.

    Woodrow Wilson International Centre of Scholarship.

  7. What a treat. I start to catch up on some missed posts and get an education. Thank you to you and Delores both.

  8. R.H. I often answer the phone with Hey and sometimes yellow.

    Elephant's Child; you're welcome.


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