Hail fellow well met is a humorous archaic colloquialism, used as a greeting, with an extra flavor of chivalrous friendliness, like the phrase M’lady.
“Hail fellow well met” may also be used to describe someone as suspiciously friendly and pretentious.
Although the exact origin of the phrase is not known, “Hail fellow well met” comes from the 16th century, with one of the earliest quotations dating back to 1589.
It is the extension of the medieval greeting “Hail fellow” – not to be confused with Hello, Fellow Kids – with “Well met” which started appearing during the years of the Renaissance.
“Hail fellow well met” would appear in several publications and books during the 17th century, such as Thomas Dekker’s “The Gull’s Hornbook”.
Over the centuries, “Hail fellow well met” became associated with an especially friendly attitude, one that is sometimes too friendly, leading to the conception of a secondary meaning to the phrase; one expressing suspicion.
It appeared in countless literary works, including the book of Johnathan Swift, titled “My Lady’s Lamentation”, published in 1728.
In contemporary contexts, “Hail fellow well met” is extremely rare to encounter, due to its archaic nature.
It is mostly seen and heard in theater performances or works of literature, that aim to invoke the atmosphere of the past.
- Wikipedia.org – Hail fellow well met