Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Would "greetings" be a better word to greet someone anytime than the word "hello"?

Let say I meet Mr. Jackson at 2pm and Mr. Anderson at 7pm. Would it be better to greet them as "Greetings Mr. Jackson" and "Greetings Mr. Anderson" than "Hello, Mr. Jackson" and "Hello, Mr. Anderson"?

I wish to greet my customers in a polite manner, so would the word "greetings" be more "polite" than the word "hello"?

share|improve this question
    
Note that, as per the answers below, it would be "Greetings" not "Greeting". –  Marcin Nov 24 '11 at 9:28
1  
@Marcin, Thanks for the note. I have edit my question to reflect the s in Greetings. –  Larry Morries Nov 24 '11 at 9:30
    
Thanks Kris. Now the heading is updated. –  Larry Morries Nov 24 '11 at 9:42
4  
In my experience, the only people who say "Greetings" in a serious way are the aliens from old TV shows: "Greetings Earthling! Take me to your leader!" –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Nov 24 '11 at 13:39
add comment

6 Answers 6

up vote 2 down vote accepted

As mentioned previously greetings does seem very old fashioned to me as a native English speaker. But it's not wrong. I think it depends a lot on the cultural setting. If for instance you are not speaking in your native language it would be interpreted as being polite and considerate. If you are a native speaker and speaking with another native speaker, a simple hello would be fine. I think it also depends if you are greeting a single person or many people at the same time. Hello all, hello everyone, or welcome eveyone (if you are greeting tham at an event, to a meeting etc) is quite acceptable when meeting several people at the same time. If you are greeting one person, a more personal follow-up, such as How are you? I hope you had a good journey. Perhaps you would like a drink? Is quite fitting.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 Thanks for the info on - If for instance you are not speaking in your native language it would be interpreted as being polite and considerate. At least my customer would interpret me as polite and considerate. –  Larry Morries Nov 25 '11 at 1:17
    
"Greetings and Salutations my good sir", is likely old fashioned enough to make someone think you are mocking them. –  Wayfaring Stranger Jan 19 at 19:09
add comment

I think in many places "Greetings" will sound very formal and archaic. To my ear, it sounds almost like a mockery, because nobody ever says that (where I'm from, any way) in real life.

"Hello." I think is perfectly acceptable, but maybe a bit abrupt in a business relationship. "Hello, how are you today?" would likely sound better.

If you're greeting someone entering a store or place of business, it would be appropriate to say "Welcome to [business name], how may I assist you?"

share|improve this answer
add comment

"Hello" is polite but if you feel you would like to say something less common then maybe "How do you do?" A much under-used greeting.

I think "Greetings Mr Smith" is possibly too formal, possibly anachronistic.

share|improve this answer
1  
Yes, or "Good afternoon/evening". I would be guided by local idiom. –  Wudang Nov 24 '11 at 9:03
    
Good afternoon or Good evening will have a problem if I meet the customer at 6pm (and probably at 12nn). I need a greeting word that is polite and sincere. –  Larry Morries Nov 24 '11 at 9:10
1  
If you meet them at 12 noon, "good afternoon" is fine. –  Hugo Nov 24 '11 at 9:19
    
@Hugo, The problem with 12nn is that I can also greet them "Good Morning" since from my understanding, "Good Morning" start from the time 0001 HRS till 1200 HRS. –  Larry Morries Nov 24 '11 at 9:35
2  
@Larry - you can say "Good afternoon" any time from midday onwards, and "Good morning" any time up until midday, and if you are a couple of minutes out, it usually doesn't matter at all. –  Rory Alsop Nov 24 '11 at 9:45
show 2 more comments

In a very formal context, you might say "Good afternoon" and "Good evening".

"Greetings" would really only be appropriate these days in an ironic fashion (say, if you were doing an impression of Teal'c from Stargate SG-1).

share|improve this answer
    
Actually some of our customer are ex-officer in the military so probably they will have a "lasting" impression of our company if we said "Greetings". –  Larry Morries Nov 25 '11 at 1:15
add comment

See greeting in the dictionary, as it says the meaning is

something friendly or polite that you say or do when you meet or welcome someone

The plural of greeting is defined as

a message that says you hope someone is well, happy, etc

In usage, to say:

birthday/Christmas greetings

is perfectly common (not to actually wish a happy birthday or a merry Christmas, but to refer to those actions). This is normal and expected from the definition.

However, the word (only plural!) can also be used in formal communication to deliver the actual greeting:

My father sends his greetings.

would be perfectly fine in a letter or even talking to someone to whom you normally speak in a more formal tone (or to whom your father speaks in a formal tone) and in this case it would be enough and you are not expected to repeat your father greetings word for word.

Similarly

Greetings to you, my friends and colleagues.

is something you can use in a public speech to deliver the actual greeting (but, typically you would not do this in company of close friends; the phrase is a bit formal and it is a bit detached, but certainly acceptable in these situations described above. note: It is detached compared to other phrases simply because it lacks any specific detail, still if it is delivered sincerely it works).

If you want to be respectful and polite you can say

  • Welcome!
  • Hello and welcome to my home/my office/our salon.

You can also ask how is someone doing or what kind of day they are having, and so on.

share|improve this answer
    
"birthday/Christmas greetings" is only common (at least where I'm from) on greeting cards and in letters. Nobody would ever say that in conversation, except to sound funny. –  Flimzy Nov 24 '11 at 15:12
    
@Flimzy, it was supposed to be an example how the word is used to refer to greetings, not to actually greet. Do you agree on that? If yes I'll edit the anser to make it more clear. –  Unreason Nov 24 '11 at 15:15
    
Yes, I do agree on that point. I think your wording is perhaps just a bit ambiguous; it sounds as though you may be making the claim it's common in spoken dialog... to say birthday/Christmas greetings is perfectly common. –  Flimzy Nov 24 '11 at 15:20
2  
I think My father sends his greetings sounds archaic/twee today, when it would normally be his regards. –  FumbleFingers Nov 24 '11 at 18:05
    
+1. Very comprehensive information provided. –  Larry Morries Nov 25 '11 at 1:13
add comment

It's perfectly polite and distinct. I went to a donut shop regularly in high school. The older japanese owner knew almost no english but he knew a hundred ways to greet people. That guy was awesome.

One day it would be "Top of the morning to you" and the next it would be "wazzzuuppp". He had a lot of fun with it and stuck to the same greeting for everyone on any given day.

We talked about him at our 20 year reunion. He made an impression that very few people have been able to reproduce.

Some days he would ask... "need new whats up" and we'd feed him some new lines and train him on how to say them. He never quite got them right, but it was always better being a little bit off. It still puts a smile on my face thinking about it.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.