The Grammarphobia Blog

Hear! Hear!

Q: When a toast is made and people wish to show their agreement, they say, “Here, here!” Or is it, “Hear, hear?” PS: I sampled an appearance of yours on WNYC for a mix of mine (check out the last track).

A: The correct exclamation is “hear! hear!” punctuated and capitalized in various ways: “Hear! Hear!” or “Hear, Hear!” or “Hear, hear!” and so on.

The earliest published references in the Oxford English Dictionary, dating from 1689, use somewhat different versions, either “hear him! hear him!” or the singular “hear!”

The first published citation for the double “hear” comes from a 1769 report from the House of Commons: “Mr. Grenville called out hear! hear!”

The OED also has several references for the expression used as a noun phrase, including an 1868 comment by Disraeli about “hear-hearers” and an 1879 remark by Sir George Campbell, a Scottish MP, about “Hear, hearing!”

There are even a few citations for the expression used as a verb phrase, including an 1883 report of an MP who “hear, hears” another member.

And thanks for letting me hear the mix. Hear, hear!

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