Why Do We Say ‘Hellooooo!’

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Mousumi Das, Kolkata: How do you greet people when you pick up the phone?
You say “hello,” of course.

What do you say when someone introduces a friend, a relative or anyone?
You say “hello.”

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Hello became the standard English language for greeting since Britons began this.

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 the meaning hello.

First, let’s get rid ourselves of myths we may have picked up over the internet. Rumor has it that the standard greeting came about because it was the name of Alexander Graham Bell’s girlfriend at the time of patenting the invention.

In fact, Alexander Graham Bell never used the word “hello”. The first call he made was to his assistant who was in the adjoining room and he said “Come-here. I want to see you.” The word “Hello” actually came from ‘hola or hullo’ which meant to stop and pay attention. Alexander Bell preferred to use ‘Ähoy’ as in the ships those days which co-incidentally was misheard by Edison.

The use of hello as a telephone greeting has been introduced by Thomas Edison actually.
According to sources, 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 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.”

Though we credit Alexander Graham Bell as the inventor of the telephone, a different inventor is credited with coining the typical phone greeting. And he is none other than Thomas Edison! The same guy who is credited with inventing the light bulb.

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