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Ben Pendleton

Joined: May 5, 2014  (email not validated)
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Okay Idiots, here's the etymology of the modern usage of the salutation: "Hey".

Although this word, in its various forms, has been used since in the English language since the late 15th century, it was not used as a common salutation until late 1950's. Before then, "hey" was a word used to call attention to a emergency situation or to gain the attention of someone beyond earshot.

Then, in the late 1950's, the word "Hey" became a greeting for post WWII veterans as an alternate to "hello" or "hi". How this came about, I don't know. What I do know, is that the usage of the word "Hey" as a greeting became popularized in the movie "American Graffiti" in 1973. This was carried on by the character "Fonzie" played by Henry Winkler in the TV series "Happy Days" which was aired from 1974-1980. "The Fonze" greeted his friends by saying "heeeey" whilst using an thumbs up sign.

I was in high school while this was all going on. I never said "Hey" to any of my high school friends until about 1980, when, all of a sudden, "hey" became the cool way to say "hi". It has remained that way to this date.

Long story short, the salutation "hey" in modern American English is due to a movie and a TV show. Nothing more, nothing less. That's how language evolves. Get over it.


Ben Pendleton May 5, 2014, 9:43pm

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