Hail Fellow Well Met

Meaning

What does Hail Fellow Well Met mean?

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.

It would most likely be encountered in the 16th century, or if one approached a White Knight who Tips fedora as a greeting.

“Hail fellow well met” may also be used to describe someone as suspiciously friendly and pretentious.

Origin

What's the origin of Hail Fellow Well Met?

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”.

Spread & Usage

How did Hail Fellow Well Met spread?

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.

External resources

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