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I was ploughing with a legitimate thriller freshly (Limitations by Scott Turow) as soon as I came throughout a heat that brought me up short: ‘“Nathan!” George cries, hail other well met, as he strides out.’ Hail other well met. I’ve been encountering this expression on and also off end the years, however never appropriately examined it. What specifically does the mean, and where does that come from?

Macmillan Dictionary, i beg your pardon hyphenates the phrase, states hail-fellow-well-met is one adjective that method ‘behaving in a very friendly means that is stroked nerves or does no seem sincere’. So it packs rather a most nuance right into a couple of familiar, if unpredictably arranged, words, normally indicating not so much a certain amount of society intimacy together an presumption or display of too lot of it. It might be an expansion of the shorter phrase hail-fellow (also Hail, fellow!, etc.), which the OED notes was both a greeting and a descriptive expression supplied in a variety of constructions. The 2nd part, Well met, was additionally a greeting: about ‘it’s good that we’ve met’, follow to World broad Words.

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If the expression sounds antiquated or old-fashioned to you, you will do be best – it dates to the 16 century at least. Thomas Hardy supplied the much shorter phrase in The market of Casterbridge (1886): ‘He overcome the room come her through a heavy tread of part awkwardness <…> and with other of a hail-fellow bearing’. The adjective’s meaning is much more transparent in mr Delamere’s advice to the well-heeled in the late seventeenth century: ‘Let no your Servants it is in over-familiar or haile fellow with you.’

Sometimes, though, the not intended negatively, and hail-fellow­ or hail-fellow-well-met­ conveys simple friendly familiarity, not an overfill of it. This is maybe what James Joyce to plan in Ulysses, as soon as he describes newspaper men as charging in ~ one an additional one moment and ‘Hail fellow well met the following moment’.

Hail is a really old native which over the centuries has actually amassed multiple interpretations in different grammatical categories: verb, noun, adjective, interjection. This last use – wherein Hail! itself is a greeting or exclamation – goes back to around 1200, and also is seldom encountered today. At the very least not in everyday discourse; Hail mar is a dedication salutation offered in a prayer that the same name.

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The associated verb hail, originally meaning to salute someone or greet them with a Hail!, is about the exact same age, and survives in a way – we still hail a taxi, meaning call the or entice its attention. And also if we’re lucky the driver isn’t as well hail-fellow-well-met.