Photo by Getty Images

What is the greeting that you use when you answer the phone? When you come across a friend or an acquaintance? When you want to greet anybody? The answer to all these questions would be Hello, of course. Apart from the fact that hardly a day would go by without you muttering this word several times, you probably don’t know much about the word. Here are five “Hello” facts that you should know about:

The word was initially used to attract attention and not as a word of greeting.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest written record of the word was in 1826 in the Norwich Courier and it was mainly used to attract attention, “Hello, Jim! I’ll tell you what: I have a sharp knife and feel as if I’d like to cut up something or other.”

It was coined as a telephone greeting by the rival of Alexander Graham Bell

Everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, but it was his rival Thomas Alva Edison (who had more rivals than most) who coined ‘hello’ as the official telephone greeting. Graham Bell insisted on using “Ahoy!” to answer the phone but it was crushed by ‘hello’ when telephone operating manuals adopted the word.

The famous greeting was a social leveler

In the 19th century, it was considered rude and unpolished to talk to anyone without being formally introduced. Hence, the use of “hello” as a telephone greeting, readily became a social leveler.

The first phone book instructed users to begin conversations with it

The first published phone book by the District Telephone Company of New Haven, Connecticut in 1878, included strict “How To” sections and it authoritatively instructed users to begin their phone conversations with “a firm and cheery” hello.

World Hello Day is observed by 180 countries in relation to promotion of peace

World Hello Day is a secular unofficial holiday celebrated on November 21 by 180 countries to illustrate the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. On this day, people are encouraged to participate by simply greeting 10 people.