Posted by: Jack Henry | May 9, 2016

Editor’s Corner: Greetings


Have you ever thought about the meanings and origins of our common greetings and pleasantries? Today, I have a list of some of these terms along with some interesting background information. This information comes from the Daily Writing Tips website. You can click here to read the entire article.

This short version of “I hope you fare well” (fare here means “do”) was originally said as a parting comment to a person leaving the company of one or more other people; the departing person would traditionally respond “Good-bye.” Now, it is sometimes used in distinction with “Good-bye,” which has a connotation of finality, whereas “Farewell” implies that the parties will meet again.

Good Day and Good Night
These abbreviated versions of “I wish you a good day/night” are almost invariably said when a person parts company with one or more others.

Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening
Unlike “Good day” and “Good night,” these expressions are usually uttered as greetings at the appropriate time of day or night, though they are sometimes said in parting.

This comment, given when one party or another departs, is a contraction of “God be with ye”; it’s often spelled goodbye.

The root word of this outdated but occasionally employed comment, an abbreviation of “I give you greetings,” originally meant “to come in contact with.”

The greeting hello likely derives from the Old High German call hala (also hola), meaning “fetch,” which was originally used to hail the operator of a ferryboat and expanded as general usage for getting someone’s attention and then as a greeting. A great variety of spellings, probably as a result of various pronunciations, persisted well into the twentieth century. Hello became more popular toward the end of the 1800s as it prevailed as the dominant form of greeting when calling someone on a telephone. Holler (meaning “a shout”), and possibly hullabaloo (meaning “a commotion”), are related.

“Hi,” used as an informal alternative to “Hello,” is unrelated to that word, though it also derives from a word used to attract attention: hey. It originally was uttered as an exclamation of surprise.

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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