“Hello” is a traditional English greeting. Most use it when greeting someone they know. This article will explore some old-fashioned ways to say “hello.”
They might not be common today, but it’s fun to look into old words for “hello” in Middle English.
Check out the best choices here:
- What do ye
- How fare ye
- Welcome be ye
- What cheer
- Good morrow
- Well met
- Good day
- Wes hal
Old-fashioned ways to say “hello” are “hail,” “what do ye,” and “how fare ye.” These are the most common forms of “hello” in Middle English that were used as Medieval greetings. They work well to show that you are seeing someone for the first time and greeting them positively.
“Hail” was once a very common greeting. You’d often use it in the same way as “hello,” meaning sentences like “hail, friend” were very easy to come by. “Hail” shows you what to say instead of “hello” in a more old-fashioned tone.
If you’ve ever wondered how knights greet each other, this phrase is a great example of that. It’s very traditional, making it an excellent choice to show you are greeting someone with love or friendship.
It’s also a great sign of respect.
- Hail, chosen one. You have come a long way to be here today. What can we do to help you out?
- Hail to you, my friend. It’s been such a long time since we last conversed. What say you today?
2. What Do Ye
“What do ye” is a great example of another way to say “hello.” It’s more in line with the modern greeting “what’s up,” showing you are greeting someone while asking them how they’re feeling.
“What do ye” is a great term to use as a greeting. It shows that you’re interested to learn how someone is feeling today.
Also, it’s still recognizable as a modern phrase. While it might not be used itself, you can figure out the meaning based on the usage of “what” and “ye.”
- What do ye, sailor? I’ve not seen you around here for a while. I’ve missed sharing your company.
- What do ye, Martin? I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye. I’m willing to look past that funny business, though.
3. How Fare Ye
“How fare ye” is another great greeting that works similarly to “hello.” In today’s English, you might find it more similar to “how are you?” It’s great to use this greeting to show that you’re saying “hello” while finding out how someone feels.
“How fare ye” and “how are you” aren’t too dissimilar based on language evolution. “How” stays the same, “fare” becomes “are,” and “ye” becomes “you.” Other than that, you can almost spot “how are you?” in “how fare ye?” That’s what makes it such a good “hello” phrase.
- How fare ye, fine man? I know I haven’t been here for you lately. I’d like to change that now.
- How fare ye? I thought I would run into you earlier in the week. I have a few things I’d like to say.
“Ey” is a simple version of how to say “hello” traditionally. “Ey” is an exclamation that is very similar to the modern “hello.” It’s often said with positive surprise when you’re pleased to see someone.
You might find “ey!” works best as an exclamation when you don’t expect to see a friend. You should use this term if they’ve shown up at an event you’re attending but didn’t realize they were going to be there.
- Ey! It’s been such a long time since I saw you, Joseph! Please, tell me everything you’ve been up to lately.
- Ey! What’s going on over there? Is that my friend Duncan or do my eyes deceive me?
5. Welcome Be Ye
“Welcome be ye” is a great old-fashioned synonym to use. It shows that you’re extending your “welcome” to someone when you see them, which is a great form of “hello.”
You should use this when you know the person well and appreciate their company. It shows they are welcome to be in your company, and you’d love to spend time talking to them.
- Welcome be ye, great one. I didn’t expect to see you so early, but I’m so pleased you decided to come today.
- Welcome be ye, of course. You are always welcome in my establishments. I want to be here to accommodate you.
“Alheil” (or “al-heil”) is another common Middle English greeting. This is rarely used (if at all) today, but it’s still a great alternative to “hello.” You can use it when you are seeing someone for the first time, and it is pronounced like “all hail.”
The only problem with “alheil” is the royal connotations that come with it. “Alheil” typically means someone ranks much higher than you. You can use it to greet someone, but it’s usually a sign of submission and respect rather than a typical friendly greeting.
- Alheil, Darren! You have come to me at the right time. I’m in a very forgiving mood, and I’d love to chat.
- Al-heil, friend! You look like you’ve added a few pounds, but you’re still just as positive and bubbly as ever.
7. What Cheer
“What cheer” is a great old-fashioned greeting used to show how excited you are to see someone. It means you are “cheering” inside because of how happy you are to meet an old friend or someone you enjoy talking to.
Today, “what cheer” has become “wotcha.” “Wotcha” is an informal phrase used to greet someone in British English. It’s used regardless of how happy you are to meet someone, so it has lost a little bit of the exciting meaning behind “what cheer.”
- What cheer, mate! Have you got any news to share about the event happening tomorrow morning?
- What cheer! It’s been such a long time since I last saw you. I must say, your being here tonight has pleased me.
8. Good Morrow
“Good morrow” is a great alternative for “hello.” You should use it when greeting someone in the morning, as it’s very similar to saying “good morning.” It works well and follows general Middle English rules, making you sound very formal and upper-class when using it.
This is a great phrase to use as a greeting. Most native speakers will know what it means today, even if it’s not in circulation in the language anymore. Don’t hesitate to use this one when you’re having a pleasant morning!
- Good morrow, fine soldier! I have a few things I’d like to add to the schedule today. Do you mind helping me with that?
- Good morrow! I rarely get a chance to see an old friend and ask how they are. So, how are you?
“Ahoy” is a very common nautical synonym for “Hello,” which comes from more old-fashioned English ideas. You would often find “ahoy” used when greeting sailors, but it quickly caught on as a very comfortable “hello” alternative.
Interestingly, “ahoy” was part of the first official telephone greeting. “Ahoy-hoy” was suggested by Alexander Graham Bell as the standard greeting when answering the telephone. Unfortunately, this did not catch on.
- Ahoy, matey! You look a little bit lost! Is there anything I can do to help you today?
- Ahoy! I’m so sorry I haven’t been in contact with you lately. It feels like a lifetime ago that we got this done.
10. Well Met
“Well met” means you’re happy to see someone and glad to make their acquaintance. It works best if you’re meeting someone for the first time, as it uses “met” to show that you might not have “met” this person before.
It’s great because it comes directly from old-fashioned English. You might have heard knights or noblemen using “well met” to greet each other when it’s their first encounter.
- Well met, traveller! I appreciate the circumstances aren’t ideal. But I’m very glad you stumbled upon my tavern.
- Well met, Sandra! I cannot believe you decided to come here today. It’s so lovely to see you happy.
11. Good Day
“Good day” was once a widespread synonym used to mean “hello.” Today, it’s more common as a farewell message rather than a greeting. Nevertheless, you can use it if the day is good and you’re happy to make someone’s acquaintance or greet them.
This phrase is excellent if you want to sound positive and fun. It shows you know a thing or two about old-fashioned English and want to introduce it into your conversations.
- Good day, Julian! Have you got any news to share about the change of venue? I’m counting on you!
- Good day! I’m not sure if I’m in the right place. I could really do with some directions, if that’s okay.
12. Wes Hal
“Wes hal” comes from the Old English phrase, “wes hāl.” Old English greetings aren’t very common today, but it was once used to say “hello.” Old English doesn’t look much like modern English, making it difficult to use the words and phrases that were common in the past.
For example, the letter “ā” in “hāl” is not used today. It’s not something that modern English natives know how to pronounce. That’s why the modernized spelling is best as “wes hal.” This helps to keep the “hello” synonym more in line with traditional pronunciation.
- Wes hal, young one! I think you might have us mistaken for another establishment. Where would you like to go?
- Wes hal! You look like you could do with some food! I’m more than happy to provide you with that.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.