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"?

  • Note that, as per the answers below, it would be "Greetings" not "Greeting".
    – Marcin
    Nov 24, 2011 at 9:28
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    @Marcin, Thanks for the note. I have edit my question to reflect the s in Greetings. Nov 24, 2011 at 9:30
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    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!" Nov 24, 2011 at 13:39

7 Answers 7


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.

  • +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. Nov 25, 2011 at 1:17
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    "Greetings and Salutations my good sir", is likely old fashioned enough to make someone think you are mocking them. Jan 19, 2014 at 19:09

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?"


"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.

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    Yes, or "Good afternoon/evening". I would be guided by local idiom.
    – Wudang
    Nov 24, 2011 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. Nov 24, 2011 at 9:10
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    If you meet them at 12 noon, "good afternoon" is fine.
    – Hugo
    Nov 24, 2011 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. Nov 24, 2011 at 9:35
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    @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, 2011 at 9:45

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).

  • 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". Nov 25, 2011 at 1:15

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.


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.

  • "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, 2011 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, 2011 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, 2011 at 15:20
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    I think My father sends his greetings sounds archaic/twee today, when it would normally be his regards. Nov 24, 2011 at 18:05

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.


I say greetings to a person that I really do not like. It's better than ignoring them.....

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