Why Do We Answer the Phone with Hello?

a girl talking on phone
Phone Image by press 👍 and ⭐ from Pixabay

Why do we answer the phone with hello? We condition ourselves to answer the phone with “Hello” because it’s an accepted greeting in the English language. People first attested “Hello” in writing in 1826. It’s related to the phrase “alo,” which derives from the Old High German word “hala” (pronounced ha-lo). People used Halon’s imperative to call ferrymen.

Image by WikiImages from Pixabay

The greeting has an interesting history. Before the telephone came along, people were encouraged to greet telephone calls with “ahoy.” However, Thomas Edison encouraged us to use “hello” and this changed the way we answer the phone. However, Alexander Graham Bell didn’t like the concept and continued to use “ahoy” as his telephone greeting. The phrase “ahoy” remained popular until the 1880s, when it was replaced by “hello”.

Image by Momentmal from Pixabay

It’s not clear exactly when the word “hello” came into use. Many sources indicate that the word originated in the telephone book, which featured authoritative “How To” sections. Alexander Graham Bell believed that it would catch on as the perfect conversation opener. Although “hello” is the most common greeting in the English language, the word ‘ahoy’ actually has a richer history. And despite its simple origins, “ahoy” has become one of the most commonly used greetings around the world.

Woman on phone
Image by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay

People used “hail” or “hollo” to greet a caller before the invention of the telephone. They used these words as salutations in the Middle Ages. Alexander Graham Bell invented the first telephone in 1876, and it was a very expensive piece of equipment. Bell intended the word ‘ahoy’ to become the standard phone greeting, but other manufacturers tried to change it. Well, we all answer our phone by saying Hello!