Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
||The word 'hi'
What is the origin the word 'hi'? Also, as a word, is it globally
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the greeting 'hi' goes back to 1475, when it was mainly a call for attention (now usually spelled as 'hey'). A greeting and a call for attention are very similar. We also use names in both functions.
The greeting 'hi' probably developed from this in the USA, where a 'hi' meaning 'hello' is first attested in 1862.
As far as I know, 'hi' is now used as an informal greeting all over the world, and you should find it in any English dictionary. I am British, living in Australia, have lived in Singapore, am married to someone from India, and have travelled widely. I use 'hi' myself and hear it all over.
Of course it is globally used! I'm surprised anyone might think it's not.
Anthea Fraser Gupta
click here to access email
Re: The word 'hi'
James L Fidelholtz
Back to Most Recent Questions