A dictionary says that Hello could be a verb, noun and interjection. I'm not sure I saw it to be a verb though.

Q: Could someone provide an example of 'hello' where it's used as verb. In the meaning of its synonym phrase 'say hello'.

Can I say for example: "I hello you?" (Probably not but what can I hello?)

  • I was just about to closevote as General Reference, but I see you've edited to include the fact that you saw "hello" defined as a verb in a dictionary. Now I'm really intrigued. What dictionary? Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 2:49
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    @Susan: Good grief! Well, here are examples of "to goodbye" (used both transitively and intransitively). As Reg says, any word can be used as a verb. But I really can't see much point in dictionaries listing every word as, inter alia, a "verb". Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 3:30
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    As Calvin says to Hobbes, "Verbing weirds language".
    – Ex Umbris
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 5:08
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    Oh hello, what’s this interjection bit?
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 7:05
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    You can hello yourself and see how you like it.
    – ronno
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 8:02

5 Answers 5


Theoretically, any, absolutely any word in English can be used as a verb. Nothing prevents you from helloing, betweening, egadsing or greating.

However, it's one thing to just use a word as a verb, but a different thing altogether to have it also be understood by others, and it's a different thing still for it to also be perfectly natural and unexceptionable. That is what language is all about, after all: communication. And as Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes famously put it, "verbing weirds language".

So yes, "I hello you" is a perfectly grammatical English sentence, but it is also a perfectly unidiomatic one. Perhaps not quite as nonsensical as the textbook example "colorless green ideas sleep furiously" — but at best, you might get away with it as a joke, or an otherwise deliberate attempt at unusualness, and at worst, people will just think you are a non-native speaker who could use better command of the language.

A native speaker is much more likely to produce "I greet you". Though that one has problems of its own, so actually just the greeting itself — "hello", or "greetings", or "welcome", or "top of the morning to you", or what have you — would be more common still.

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    Ok. Thanks I like this theoretical approach. I just thought though if dictionary has it, it refers to some legal usage, otherwise all words could come with 'V' mark.
    – ses
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 2:52
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    In The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote when Bilbo tried to get rid of Gandalf with a good morning: “To think that I should have lived to be goodmorninged by Belladonna Took's son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!” Curiously, in the movie, either the writers or Ian McKellen himself altered the original rustic was to the more primly were, perhaps to avoid grating on the North American ear.
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 6:09
  • Why only NA ears? "as if I were" sounds better to my ears too that "as if I was" - Is the were not correct in BE?
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 7:24
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    Bring it on! :)
    – mplungjan
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 7:35
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    @ses: your usage of "legal" above seems to imply that you think there is some authority which rules on what is a word and what isn't. There is no such authority
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 17:41

Other answers have argued for hello's capacity to be a verb (but seem to doubt that it actually is a verb). I'll leave them the theory, here are recent examples of its use.

Stein had walked nodding and helloing straight to the bar and leaning on its structure of crates ordered a drink. (Thin Red Line)

He was just helloing me like I was his long-lost tich uncle. (Hockey Sur Glace)

I helloed to the boys to circle around on the other side of the canyon. (Wells, Fargo and Co Stagecoach and Robberies)

Walter helloed again, slammed the door to his truck and leaned against it. (The Coldest Night)

It seems to be especially common in poetry and westerns

  • Great datamining work.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 7:33
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    Could one understand from this that you hello to somebody, making the Hockey sur Glace example incorrect? Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 8:25
  • ngrams certainly indicates that youre right books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Unrelated
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 9:14

You can greet someone; you can bid someone hello; you can acknowledge someone.

You are correct that the dictionary lists hello as a verb:

verb: hello; 3rd person present: helloes; past tense: helloed; past participle: helloed; gerund or present participle: helloing; verb: hallo; 3rd person present: halloes; past tense: halloed; past participle: halloed; gerund or present participle: halloing; verb: hullo; 3rd person present: hulloes; past tense: hulloed; past participle: hulloed; gerund or present participle: hulloing
1. say or shout “hello”; greet someone.

but I would say this would be strange in AmE.


Almost any word can be a verb. Probably the best examples to demonstrate this are expressions to express intoxication:

I was hammered
I got absolutely roof-topped

Or, to some examples of a British stand-up comedian:

I got utterly gazebo-ed, Completely bungalowed

Yes, you can indeed get "so ladle'd" and provided you say it in the right way (hint: emphasize the past participle), everyone will know what you're on about. Be careful, though, because some nouns have a rather specific, and sometimes deviant meaning when used as a verb (Teabag, scissor, spoon...)

I can imagine my using hello as a verb in certain cases, to convey a certain image/feeling:

All he did was helloing the guests, but refused to lend a helping hand.

Or, if I were to tell you of some formal happening where I felt as the odd one out, I might say something like

I helloed a couple of people, but I felt like a right git doing so

With this, I'd hope to conjure up an image of me, standing in a corridor, with a rented tuxedo that doesn't quite fit, being nervous and hoping to be able to sneak out ASAP.

However, I'd say "hello" is quite commonly used as a gerund, which is a verb used as a noun.
So you might think of the following sentence as a word, commonly used as a noun, being used as a verb, that is in turn being used as a noun again:

Your helloing everyone was a sight to behold

Then again, you're more likely to say:

[You] saying your hellos was a sight to behold


It is more likely used in the past tense, in the sense of greeting, wishing, hailing or just plain interrupting someone (esp., in the passing), analogous to Hi'ed (informal/ teen lingo). ="said 'Hello'".


intr.v. hel·loed, hel·lo·ing, hel·loes
To call "hello."


verb (used without object), hel·loed, hel·lo·ing.
5. to say “hello”; to cry or shout: I helloed, but no one answered.

Some related quotes appear in the answer by user @Unrelated on this page!

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    I believe the past tenses of both hi and hie are regular, and thus converge upon a common hied for that inflection.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jan 12, 2014 at 0:49

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