lizard out front.jpg

When did people start using the word “hey” instead of “hi”?

I remember when I first heard this word used in casual greeting. I was researching my fourth novel, Keeper of the Light, in the early ’90s and contacted the woman who was heading up the renovation of the keeper’s house at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse in Corolla, NC. She was a fabulous help to me in my research. One of the first things I noticed about her was that she always greeted me with “hey.” I thought it must be a coastal North Carolina thing. Over the years, though, I realized “hey” had crept into general conversation throughout the country. It’s on TV shows, in the movies, and in our daily lives. As I look back through my books, I seemed to have shifted from “hi” to “hey” in my characters’ greetings to one another around 2000.

I like this trend. I like the friendly, casualness of it (although I keep hearing my first grade teacher’s voice in my head, saying “Hey is for horses!”

So, have you noticed this shift in our vocabulary? Are you a “hey” or a “hi” person?

(By the way, the pic of the lizard, who sits by my front door, was taken by my significant other, John Pagliuca).  


  1. Denise on November 19, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I say both ‘hi’ and ‘hey,’ depending upon who I am greeting. ‘Hey’ is more casual than ‘hi.’ Most of my younger friends are ‘hey’ people. I think ‘hey’ sounds a bit more friendly when greeting a friend than ‘hi.’
    Many years ago (the mid-70’s) I worked for a firm that did a lot of business with a company in Macon, Georgia. They always said “Hey!” when I called them. I thought it was a southern thing. Lol

  2. Ann on November 20, 2008 at 1:00 am

    I think Denise is right. I have always lived in the south and I have always said Hey.

  3. Margo on November 20, 2008 at 7:57 am

    I’ve always greeted people with ‘hi’…a few years ago I met a new artist friend and she would greet me with ‘hey’…I like both but somehow ‘hey’ coming from my mouth just doesn’t fit…I’ve said ‘hi’ for so long and it’s more natural for me.
    Love the lizard Diane…very artistic…did a friend make this for you?…I sprung over to John’s website and discovered he has a blog…I enjoyed reading about his recent Outer Banks Workshop too…what an amazing and talented man!…I bet he has some incredible photos of the lighthouse…Hope he’s recovering well from surgery.

  4. Alexandra Sokoloff on November 20, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Hey Diane! 😉
    As a California native I have to agree – “Hey” is more a Southern thing. Most people in California say Hi, and the people who tend to say “Hey” are either Southern or affecting a drawl.
    These days I say both.
    I still get startled looks here when I say “you guys” instead of “y’all”, but “you guys” is what I grew up with.

  5. Diane Chamberlain on November 20, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Well, Alex, at least you didn’t grow up in the “youse guys” land of New Jersey like me!

  6. brenda on November 26, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I say HI with the long I as we learned when we lived in Ohio. When I lived in South Carolina, the HEY was awkward for me…

  7. Sharon on November 30, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve been wondering about this. I first noticed it in the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and figured it was a Southern thing, but now everyone says “Hey.”

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