Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • interjection Used to greet someone, answer the telephone, or express surprise.
  • noun A calling or greeting of “hello.”
  • intransitive verb To call “hello.”

from The Century Dictionary.

  • An exclamation designed to attract the attention of a person at a distance; also, a mere greeting between persons meeting.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • interjection An exclamation used as a greeting, to call attention, as an exclamation of surprise, or to encourage one. This variant of halloo and holloo has become the dominant form. In the United States, it is the most common greeting used in answering a telephone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • interjection A greeting (salutation) said when meeting someone or acknowledging someone’s arrival or presence.
  • interjection A greeting used when answering the telephone.
  • interjection A call for response if it is not clear if anyone is present or listening, or if a telephone conversation may have been disconnected.
  • interjection colloquial Used sarcastically to imply that the person addressed or referred to has done something the speaker or writer considers to be foolish.
  • interjection An expression of puzzlement or discovery.
  • noun "Hello!" or an equivalent greeting.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an expression of greeting

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Alteration of hallo, alteration of obsolete holla, stop!, perhaps from Old French hola : ho, ho! + la, there (from Latin illāc, that way).]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Hello (first attested in 1846) from hallo (attested 1840), from holla, hollo (attested 1588). This variant of hallo is often credited to Thomas Edison as a coinage for telephone use, but its appearance in print predates the invention of the telephone by several decades.

Examples

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Comments

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  • "is that guy... *hello*?

    December 7, 2006

  • Supposedly, there is a 'good' reason for saying hello.

    December 1, 2008

  • Is this actual?

    December 1, 2008

  • ...actual what?

    December 1, 2008

  • Presumably 'actual' in the sense of 'current'.

    December 1, 2008

  • ...mably what?

    December 1, 2008

  • what?

    December 1, 2008

  • I think arcadia was asking if the linguistic theory I linked to is true, ie. that "the first two syllables in a conversation will generally not be understood".

    December 1, 2008

  • Aarrggh, I've been leg-pulled!

    December 1, 2008

  • Exactly what I meant. So, is it?

    December 2, 2008