Etymology of "hello"

sotos

Senior Member
Greek
I did a beginner's search through WR.com and I found only hundreds of salutations. If there is no other thread on that, does anybody know something about the origins of Hello, other than what I find in Etymoline? The motivation behind my question is the similarity with the Homeric greeting "Oule" (ούλε) (Od. 24, 402, http://www.theoi.com/Text/HomerOdyssey24.html ). This is the imperative of the v. oulo (I'm in good health) http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper...habetic+letter=*o:entry+group=80:entry=ou)/lw.
Thanks.
 
  • Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Hello(!) sotos

    Try this:

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=hello&searchmode=none

    In general, it would be most unusual for such a common, old and colloquial English word or greeting to have any direct connexion - as your question seems somewhat optimistically to suggest you may be thinking - with a classical Greek ancestor.

    The Homeric word οὔλειν is much more likely to be related to Latin valere, and if LSJ's putative correlation with οὗλος/ὅλος is right, this looks like an IE relative of English "whole" and "hale", German heil.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Here's a previous thread where this was addressed.

    I remember similar threads about French allô and Spanish hola (and ole), though I wasn't able to trace them all back. It's tempting to think these words might be somehow related, though the order of the vowels doesn't match. All seem to have obscure origins. It seems to me that such words could easily have started as calling phrases. For example, Portuguese olá (and Spanish hola, etc.) < ó lá, "hey there". But I've never found any evidence to corroborate this theory.
     
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    terredepomme

    Senior Member
    Korean
    From what I've heard it was originally an exclamation(hullo!) and the use of it as a greeting is in fact quite modern, which arised along with the invention of telephone. That's why the romance words "allô" "alo" etc are only used for phone conversations.
     

    miguel89

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    From what I've heard it was originally an exclamation(hullo!) and the use of it as a greeting is in fact quite modern, which arised along with the invention of telephone. That's why the romance words "allô" "alo" etc are only used for phone conversations.
    Also older attestations of "hola" in Spanish work as interjections.
    From Cervantes:
    Discreto sois, mancebo, pero haced cuenta que yo soy el aire y que os soplo en popa y os encamino a la cárcel. ¡Asilde, hola, y llevalde, que yo haré que duerma allí sin aire esta noche!
    Esta noche tú, ¡hola!, está alerta,
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    In Polish 'hola' means 'hey'. I do not know the etymology, but it may be just a 'natural' exclamation sound, that occurs in many languages.
     

    Scholiast

    Senior Member
    Good evening

    For me it sounds as "Ellos" (They) and "Olos" (All) and that word may originate from "wholeness" of a person, Health of person.
    (mataripis #8)

    With all respect, there is no connexion whatever.

    Spanish (el)los comes directly from the Latin demonstrative pronoun ille, specifically from its Accusative Masculine Plural form, illos. "Olos" (Greek ὅλος) is indeed in IE a cousin of English "whole", and may plausibly be related to Germanic/A-S/modern English "all" as well.
     

    sotos

    Senior Member
    Greek
    ...it would be most unusual for such a common, old and colloquial English word or greeting to have any direct connexion ... with a classical Greek ancestor. The Homeric word οὔλειν is much more likely to be related to Latin valere, and if LSJ's putative correlation with οὗλος/ὅλος is right, this looks like an IE relative of English "whole" and "hale", German heil.
    So, you are saying that the German "heil" is unrelated to Eng. hello, but you agree that "heil" means "healthy" (whole) exactly as the homeric "Oule". If you are correct, English must be one of the european languages that the common salutation is nor related to the sense of health.
     

    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    can there be a connection with "Query", "Question",

    as often, initiating with a request or question.

    There is an Indian word "KEl" means "To ask" or "To Quest"
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    can there be a connection with "Query", "Question",

    as often, initiating with a request or question.

    There is an Indian word "KEl" means "To ask" or "To Quest"
    This is actually a theme for another Thread.

    There is a good Online Etymology Dictionary that you can always consult for such questions. You find it here:http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=query&searchmode=none
    It gives the following explanation: query: quaere, from L. quaere "ask," imperative of quaerere "to seek, gain, ask," probably ultimately from PIE *kwo-.
    So you can see that there is an obvious link to 'question': rom Anglo-Fr. questiun, O.Fr. question "legal inquest," from Latin quæstionem (nom. quæstio) "a seeking, inquiry.
    Inquire and inquiry also come from the same family.
    If by "Indian" word you mean a word in Hindi, or any related Indoeuropean language there is a probability that 'kei' is related. If this is a Tamil word, then it might be a loan from one of the Indoeuropean languages of India. If this is a native word, than it is even more interesting, as it sounds similar both to the Japanese question particle -ka and to the Finnish -ko.
     

    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I am thinking of words like "Help", "Hear" etc... connected with "Hello".

    and my question does the words "Help or Hear" has any relation with Latin "Quer.."?




    Forget about the Tamil connection with "Hello", its too far to have direct connection.
    But FYI, KEL is south Indian(Dravidian) and available in all its Languages, so KEl is definitely not a loan word, there are n number of similar words
    KEl(ask), KElvi(Question),KElu,KEtpathu(Hear, Heed) etc...
     

    Lugubert

    Senior Member
    In Polish 'hola' means 'hey'. I do not know the etymology, but it may be just a 'natural' exclamation sound, that occurs in many languages.
    Gets my vote.

    Compare also
    Wikipedia:ululation said:
    ... a long, wavering, high-pitched vocal sound resembling a howl with a trilling quality. It is produced by emitting a high pitched loud voice accompanied with a rapid movement of the tongue and the uvula.[1] The term ululation is an onomatopoeic word derived from Latin.
    with examples of practices that have an l in their names, from several language families.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    They say it to a horse, in some countries, like Poland, for example, Hej vio, and Northern people say it to the dogs, or huskies that pull their sled.
     
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    aruniyan

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    From etymonline.com i got these words, may be related to "hello"?

    Hear: O.E. heran (Anglian), (ge)hieran, hyran (W.Saxon) "to hear, listen (to), obey, follow; accede to, grant; judge," from P.Gmc. *hausjan (cf. O.N. heyra, O.Fris. hora, Du. horen, Ger. hören, Goth. hausjan), perhaps from PIE *kous- "to hear"


    Listen : O.E. hlysnan "to listen," from P.Gmc. *khlusinon (cf. O.H.G. hlosen "to listen," Ger. lauschen "to listen"), from PIE base *kleu- "hearing, to hear" (cf. Skt. srnoti "hears," srosati "hears, obeys;" Avestan sraothra "ear;" M.Pers. srod "hearing, sound;" Lith. klausau "to hear," slove "splendor, honor;" O.C.S. slusati "to hear," slava "fame, glory," slovo "word;" Gk. klyo "hear, be called," kleos "report, rumor, fame glory," kleio "make famous;" L. cluere "to hear oneself called, be spoken of;" O.Ir. ro-clui-nethar "hears," clunim "I hear," clu "fame, glory," cluada "ears;" Welsh clywaf "I hear;" O.E. hlud "loud," hleoðor "tone, tune;" O.H.G. hlut "sound;" Goth. hiluþ "listening, attention").

    Query/Quaero : quaere, from L. quaere "ask," imperative of quaerere "to seek, gain, ask," probably ultimately from PIE *kwo-.


    these words seems be connected and "Listen" seems to be the best match for "hello" :)

    For me this is Interesting , the Tamil words for each of the above..
    Hear/Listen: KElu, KEtpa
    Query : KElvi
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    So, you are saying that the German "heil" is unrelated to Eng. hello, but you agree that "heil" means "healthy" (whole) exactly as the homeric "Oule". If you are correct, English must be one of the european languages that the common salutation is nor related to the sense of health.
    Heil and hallo are unrelated in German as well. In both English and German, hallo/hello is not primarily a salutation but an exclamation to attract attention. The use as a salutation is secondary.

    The word is most frequently associated with the OHG verb halon = to scream, to shout, to summon. E.g. here; but this explanation is incomplete as only the modern meaning holen = to fetch is mentioned. OHG halon is cognate to Latin calo and Greek καλέω.
     
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    Perseas

    Senior Member
    The word is most frequently associated with the OHG verb halon = to scream, to shout, to summon. E.g. here; but this explanation is incomplete as only the modern meaning holen = to fetch is mentioned. OHG halon is cognate to Latin calo and Greek καλέω.
    There's also the verb call in English which means καλώ in Modern Greek. Are halon and call cognates?
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    There's also the verb call in English which means καλώ in Modern Greek. Are halon and call cognates?
    No. Call is of Anglo-Saxon origin. If you look for cognates of Germanic words starting with /k/ in Latin or Greek, you look for initial /g/ (Grimm's Law). A related Latin words are gallus < PIE *gal- = to cry, to shout.
     

    G a

    Senior Member
    American English, Español mexicano
    I don't know how far back the etymology can actually be traced, but one thing's sure--"hello," or "hola," or "halloo," with many other variants, were common Medieval hunting calls, at least in Middle and Modern English, and possibly several other languages; I don't know if it ever had a specific meaning, or was always just a general cry to attract someone's attention, but it definitely had that use.

    As far as its current usage as a greeting, it is quite modern--it didn't come into wide acceptance until the advent of the telephone.

    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=hello (by no means the only etymological dictionary with this explanation)
     

    mataripis

    Senior Member
    An expression that let others know you. Hello for me comes from Greek "Olos" meaning all.But in many asian countries, the sound " oy" is the equivalent of hello. It is a greeting by any one in any country.In Greece this sounds " Ya" (geia)!
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The University of Texas' Linguistic Research Center suggests a common Indo-European origin (page 29), based on the work of Julius Pokorny.
    A very questionable interpretation of Pokorny. The French âllo is a recent loan and certainly not a direct IE reflex; the etymology of Spanish hola is completely in the dark and the alledged Greek reflex has nothing to do with hullo/hallo/hello. Leaves the Germanic, specifically German, as the only halfway credible source, provided German hallo and English hullo/hallo/hello aren't chance coincidences which would be the case, if English hullo/hallo/hello were derived from French holà as stated in etymonline.
     

    mataripis

    Senior Member
    Can you substantiate this? What means "for me"? Etymology has nothing to do with personal preference.
    I'm sorry . But the word itself clearly describes wholeness and it sounds altered whole that became he- llo.the feeling when uttering this word is focused on the person's identity as a whole.people may have varied intellect but some are unaware in the sense of feelings which has no written data or records.
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I'm sorry . But the word itself clearly describes wholeness and it sounds altered whole that became he- llo.the feeling when uttering this word is focused on the person's identity as a whole.people may have varied intellect but some are unaware in the sense of feelings which has no written data or records.
    This is about the actual history of the word (inheritance, loaning, sound shifts, etc.), not fellings one may attach to the sounds of the word. Unless you can demonstrate how this relates to the actual history of the word, such comments are out of scope in this forum.
     

    fdb

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    The University of Texas' Linguistic Research Center suggests a common Indo-European origin (page 29), based on the work of Julius Pokorny.

    Neither Pokorny nor the Texan site actually says that English “hello” or German “hallo” come from the alleged IE *alā-. Pokorny in fact says: „nhd. hallo, holla sind dagegen aus dem Imperativ von ahd. halón, holón ‚holen‘ entwickelte Rufworte“.
     

    parieur

    Senior Member
    Moderator note: Split off from here. and merged with existing thread on the same topic. :)

    I notice that Hutschi mentioned the (German?) word "hallo".
    Being a German beginner myself, I was under the impression that it was a German word.
    Is this not so?

    le P
     
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    Frieder

    Senior Member
    Yes, it is a German word:
    Ursprünglich der Imperativ zu ahd. halon, holon, vergleichbar mit holla zu holen. Eigentlich Zuruf an den Fährmann (hol über) mit im Zuruf gedehnter Endsilbe (Pluti), die deshalb in voller Form erhalten bleibt. (Kluge, etymologisches Wörterbuch d. deutschen Sprache)​
     

    kency

    Senior Member
    English - SE England
    Yes parieur, 'Hallo' is very old fashioned in English and not specific to it. Many European languages have a variation (e.g. hola) and it originates from Arabic according to most theories.
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Yes parieur, 'Hallo' is very old fashioned in English and not specific to it. Many European languages have a variation (e.g. hola) and it originates from Arabic according to most theories.
    I am not usually citing Wiktionary as an authoritative resource but this sums it up quite well:
    The popular theory of "hola" originating from Arabic وَٱللّٰه ‎(wal-lāh, “really?, by God!”) is today discredited.
    The derivation Frieder cited is the current consensus view.
     
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