Why Do People Say “Hello” When Answering the Phone?

Source: Library Of Congress

When we pick up the phone to answer a call, most of us begin the conversation by saying “hello.” But why do we say this particular word? What is the origin of this ubiquitous telephone greeting?

The word “hello” has been used for centuries as an exclamation of greeting or as an attention-getter. However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that it became associated with answering the telephone. Before then, people would often answer the phone by saying “ahoy-hoy” or “oyez.”

Source: Library Of Congress

The credit for popularizing the use of “hello” on the telephone goes to Thomas Edison, the inventor of the phonograph and the light bulb. In 1877, Edison was working on the development of the telephone and suggested that people use the word “hello” when answering the phone.

At the time, the telephone was a relatively new invention, and people were unsure of how to use it. Edison felt that “hello” was a simple and easy-to-understand greeting that could be used universally. He also believed that the hard consonant sounds in the word made it easy to hear over the phone’s relatively poor sound quality.

Source: Library Of Congress

Despite Edison’s endorsement, it took a while for “hello” to catch on as a telephone greeting. In the early days of the telephone, people would often answer the phone by giving their name or the name of their business. It wasn’t until the 1900s that “hello” became the standard greeting for answering the phone.

Today, “hello” remains the most common greeting used when answering the phone, although there are variations in different languages and cultures. For example, in some Spanish-speaking countries, people answer the phone with “diga” or “bueno,” while in France, the traditional greeting is “allo.”

In conclusion, the word “hello” became associated with answering the telephone in the late 1800s, thanks in part to Thomas Edison’s suggestion. It was a simple and easy-to-understand greeting that eventually caught on as the standard way of answering the phone. Today, “hello” remains the most common telephone greeting, used by people all over the world.

Source: Library Of Congress