The Short History of Hello vs Ahoy

Alexander Graham Bell used the word “ahoy” to greet people on the telephone. You would figure that would stick since he created the telephone. However, Thomas Edison, said “hello” to address people on the phone. The stubborn Graham Bell till his death used “ahoy” while the rest of the world greeted each other with hello.

The Oxford English Dictionary says the first published use of “hello” goes back only to 1827. And it wasn’t mainly a greeting back then. People in the 1830’s said hello to attract attention (“Hello, what do you think you’re doing?”), or to express surprise (“Hello, what have we here?”). Hello didn’t become “hi” until the telephone arrived.

“Monty” Burns, the evil owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant on The Simpsons. If you watch the program, you may have noticed that Mr. Burns regularly answers his phone “Ahoy-hoy.”