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Origin of "Hi There"

Posted by R. Berg on April 16, 2003

In Reply to: Origin of "Hi There" posted by Eva Cameron on April 16, 2003

: : : So, can anyone help me on where "Hi There!" comes from and why it is that we say "there" along with this greeting?

: : : Amuzing to me, someone I said this to thinks I was being rude for calling them "there"--saying to me, "My name isn't 'there.'

: : : Thoughts?

: : From the archives:
: : "Hi" preceded "hello." The Oxford English Dictionary says "hi" is a "parallel form of HEY." The first recorded uses of these interjections in writing: "hi," the year 1475; "hey," 1225; "hello" (a variant of "hallo"), 1883.

: : HELLO, HOWDY, HI - ".or words to that effect, are used by most of us several times a day. 'How do you do?' (literally 'how is your health?'), 'good morning,' 'good afternoon,' and 'good evening' have been English greetings since the mid 15th century.Surprisingly enough, 'hello' didn't become a truly common greeting until the mid 1860s. It comes from 'holla!', stop! (French ho! + la, there); it had been used as a shout to attract attention, hail a coach, ferry, etc." Page 184. From I Hear America Talking: An Illustrated History of American Words and Phrases, by Stuart Berg Flexner, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976.

: thanks . . . but what the 'there' all about?
: -eva

"Hi, there" isn't quite the kind of phrase to be in the phrase books, and I can only give my impression. My husband (USN, Ret.) says there's an old nautical expression "Ahoy, there"--used to hail a ship at a distance. I think the "there" in "Hi, there" similarly emphasizes the physical distance between the speaker and the person addressed. That's a little like treating the person I'm greeting as a mere image in my visual field. Maybe that's why the person you spoke to was offended.

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