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Members of the Signal Corps Female Telephone Operators Unit of the United States Army Signal Corps, known colloquially as “hello girls”, working at the General Headquarters in Chaumont, Haute-Marne, France, during World War I

From the fact that the telephone operators would greet callers with “Hello” when contacted.



hello girl (plural hello girls)

  1. (telephony, informal, dated) A female telephone operator.
    Synonym: telephone girl
    • 1884 September, “The International Electrical Exhibition at Philadelphia, Sept. 2, 1884”, in F. L. Pope, editor, The Electrician and Electrical Engineer. A Monthly Review of Theoretical and Applied Science, volume III, New York, N.Y.: Electrical Publishing Company, [], OCLC 1919806, page 193, column 2:
      The latest model of the multiple switch-board is in position, and in a few days the "Hello" girls will render complete the inside view of a modern telephone exchange.
    • 1893, J[ohn] T. Pettee, “Annual Address: A Review of the Year 1892 by the President”, in Transactions of the Scientific Association, Meriden, Conn., Meriden, Conn.: Press of E. A. Horton & Co., OCLC 718545156, page 17:
      Surely, we must include the Long-Distance Telephone among the electrical achievements of the year. And if we may add the automatic switch-board, by which the services of the "hello-girl" are to be dispensed with; and if the new company, just formed in Chicago, fulfill its promise to give us telephone service at half the present rates, it will afford us an illustration of "applied science," which I am sure we shall be quick to appreciate.
    • 1889, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], “Sandy’s Tale”, in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, New York, N.Y.: Charles L. Webster & Company, OCLC 1072888, page 177:
      The humblest hello-girl along ten thousand miles of wire could teach gentleness, patience, modesty, manners, to the highest duchess in Arthur's land.
    • 2001, Ken Follett, chapter 17, in Jackdaws, London: Macmillan, →ISBN; republished New York, N.Y.: Dutton, 2002, →ISBN, page 162:
      Now imagine that the main automatic exchange is out of service and all those calls have to be made the old-fashioned way, by hello girls, taking ten times as long.


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