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Hear, hear vs. here, here

Hear, hear (usually with a comma and set apart as a self-contained sentence) is the conventional spelling of the colloquial exclamation used to express approval for a speaker or sentiment. It’s essentially short for hear him, hear him or hear this, hear this, where these phrases are a sort of cheer.

Here, here is widely regarded as a misspelling, although it is a common one, and there are ways to logically justify its use. But for what it’s worth, hear, hear is the original form (the Oxford English Dictionary cites examples going back to the 17th century) and is the one listed in dictionaries. English reference books mention here, here only to note that it’s wrong.

Examples


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In writing, hear, hear usually appears after a quote expressing an opinion with which the author agrees—for example:

Rep. Brian Bilbray and a whole bunch of others have championed the cutting-off of employment opportunities to dull Uncle Sam’s luster for those who have no respect for our laws. Hear, hear. [North County Times (link now dead)]

“Only that it was awesome,” she said, “and that the Bronco Bowl was the only concert venue that ever mattered.” Hear, hear. [Dallas Observer]

“I think we need to go back to old-fashioned basics and hard work in the nets and not try and re-invent the wheel.” Hear, hear! [Daily Telegraph]

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Comments

  1. Richard W. says:

    That’s funny, because I’m sure I read somewhere that “Here, here!” was the proper spelling, being originally a shout meaning, “Here is the person to whom we should all be paying attention.” (Picture the shouter gesturing toward the speaker with his open hand.) I guess I’m easily duped, because this didn’t sound nonsensical or silly to me.

  2. “With a comma, usually set apart as a self-contained sentence”…

    What a bunch of sanctimonious clap-trap!

    Unless Occam has lost some of his authority: “Hear! Hear!” requires no additional rules other than the usual implicit “You” associated with all interjections…

  3. Maybe “Hear here,” as in, you can here it hear in this spot.

    • No.. Hear as in: ‘listen’! …

    • The_Major says:

      Ooh dear, I think you’re getting your “here”s and “hear”s mixed up! One may “hear” something “here”, however one may not “here” something “hear”…

    • That is precisely what I thought and it still makes more sense to my logic.

      As in, “Everyone, HEAR what has been said HERE!”

      I still check it now and again just to see if it has changed.

      Alas, we’re outnumbered.

      Unfortunately for us, grammar yields to consensus over logic.

      • As noted by the ever-present use of ‘me’ as a subject, i.e. “He is older than me,” or “Who said that?” “Me!” Oh, woe is me!

        • ‘Me’ in the sense of your examples functions not as an object pronoun but as an *emphatic* pronoun, and is perfectly legitimate nowadays. In fact, the use of the soon-to-be-archaic use of ‘I’ in these expressions is already considered to be quite stilted and old-fashioned in most quarters.
          The same thing occurs in French: “C’est moi!” translates to “It’s me,” and the more strictly grammatical “C’est je!” is rarely if ever heard.
          Languages change and logic is rarely involved in the process. As Neil deGrasse Tyson says about Pluto being demoted to dwarf planet status, “Get over it!”

          • Yes, language is a dynamic thing. If you want to sound like a Neanderthal suit yourself! :)

          • Better a down-to-earth – or in this case found-in-earth – Neandertal (the ‘h’ was removed in a German spelling reform in 1900) than a stuffed shirt!

          • LOL. Touche!

          • I would note that, in “It’s me,” ‘it’ is the subject and ‘me’ is the object. (:
            It’s the same for all those examples, actually, even if the literal subject is not included in the sentence. It can still be implied.

          • Au contraire, ‘it’ and ‘me’ are both the subject because no action is being performed on either.

          • I would argue that you are incorrect there. Just because there is no action being performed does not mean that there is no object (triple negative eat your heart out!). By the use of ‘is’ in ‘It’s’, there certainly is a verb even if it is considered an irregular helping verb.

          • “It’s me” means “it is me” means “it *equals* me.” Both are subjects in the nominative case and are synonyms of each other. Also, “to be” is not a transitive verb so it does not take a direct object! “It’s me” is the same kind of sentence as “I am a carpenter,” where “I” = “carpenter.” Get it? The Russian language, for example, does not use the present tense of “to be” at all; a Russian would say “I carpenter” (Ya plotnik), which should make the meaning crystal clear.
            Everyone should be required to study at least one foreign language, preferably an inflected one like Latin or Russian where these relationships are made explicit in the spelling.

      • Glenn Kennedy says:

        Historically, it’s directly related to, and stemming from, the old cry of “hear ye, hear ye”. Any other explanation is merely a modernistic extrapolation and, in the correct context, logistically unsound.

        • Nicolas Connault says:

          I agree, but “logistically unsound”? What do logistics have to do with this? :p

          • PeaceAndUnrest says:

            I too agree…. Moreover, I assumed he meant “logically unsound”. And now I leave it to the reader to critique my use of the ellipsis in my opening sentence and my use of the word “Moreover” following it. Have fun!

          • David Howell says:

            OK I’ll bite. An ellipsis is a symbol consisting of three dots, not four.

          • William Isaac says:

            While at first I tended to agree with your assertion, I looked up the definition of logistic and one could hypothetically stretch the listed definition – “symbolic logic” – to fit in this case (since words are clearly symbols and logic would have been an acceptable word to use in his statement. Sorry :P

        • Deborah Mulholand says:

          I can just hear Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention saying, “Hear Ye. Hear Ye.”

      • All things but science lead to consensus over logic, but still even the science world is being overcome by foolish political jargon.

        Although I do believe “Hear, hear” makes the most sense… See, if humans can be swayed more without the use of logic, it can be more logical to use these techniques to persuade the listener. This is simply because repetition has a grander effect than a lone statement. Am I right or am I right?

        George Carlin tends to use repetition to audience’s and makes his points loud and clear to all types of people with varied beliefs.

      • Logic is that it’s repeated for emphasis. As in Listen, listen. Or better “Listen well.” Think of the town crier shouting out in the town square, “Hear ye, Hear ye, know ye well by these words…” He’s not shouting hey you, over here. He’s saying listen, listen…

    • Hahaha, you still flipped the “here’s!” You meant you can “hear this here in this spot…” but nice try with the word play.

  4. The_Major says:

    Many thanks Grammarist! Although we may disagree on certain words; such as “favour”, “colour”, “capitalisation” or even the pronunciation of words like “tomato”, I have found your “Hear, Hear” article most informative! Keep up the good work!

  5. Why wouldn’t it be “Hear, here!” As in, “Listen hear!”

  6. I’ve always assumed it comes from “Oyez! oyez!” (Hear! Hear!) as when it’s traditionally said when a court comvenes. Every session of the US Supreme Court begins:

    “Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the
    Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and
    give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United
    States and this Honorable Court.”

  7. Jim, the context is different between the Biblical example(s) and the Parliamentary ones. The phrase may have been used prior to the late 17th century, but the meaning was not the same.

    In the Biblical phrases you cited, “Hear, hear” is used to attract another’s attention — more along the lines of “Hear ye, hear ye” preceding an announcement, or Richard Grayson’s (below) example of “Oyez! Oyez!” used to announce a judge’s arrival in a court of law.

    In the Parliamentary usage, the phrase is uttered to concur with a speaker *after* a statement is made. That is the usual context when “Hear, hear!” is used today.

  8. When Grammarist argue! ;) LOL my pc didn’t recognize the word Grammarist :D

  9. Gynan Dro Morph says:

    My pc didn’t recognize the word Grammarist :D

  10. earthlinggirl says:

    Here, hear!

  11. johnnyp10 says:

    These days people just say, “Word up!” or,… “Yo – Word.” Means the same.

  12. As I understood, the intention of the colloquial phrase ‘hear hear’ was to exhort others to pay attention to the speaker as you enthusiastically endorse the speech yourself (I hear you and please listen to this person). There are folks here who seem to strongly support the notion that it could be ‘hear here’.
    While I do hear you, it does not seem logical (not that language needs logic). Note that ‘Here, here’ is used to get attention in a crowd to yourself. That being the case, when you are endorsing someone else’s speech, here does not sound logical.

    Learn the facts, but not from someone’s opinion – Anon

  13. I still want to argue for “Here, here now!” as in “Listen here now!” Could it be that both meanings are used in conversation even though the second one does not have literary backing; that the reality of the usage is not either, or but both? And why should one have to be correct and the other incorrect?

    • Penny Bradford says:

      I hear, “Here, here!” as a statement placing something or someone. Even if it was used to attract attention to someone saying something important enough to a listener who wants others to hear what was being spoken, they’d still just be doing just that. It is still not saying, “Hear, hear!” in a general tone of agreement for others to acknowledge. How about we use both. “Here, here!” and once they come over, physically, then draw them in further with, “Hear, hear!” and both will be covered.

      • Michael Gmirkin says:

        I hear it as a shortening of a toast, as at a dinner party.

        “Here[‘s a toast to what was just said!]”, repeated for emphasis. “Here, here!” Everyone who agrees raises a toast. Everyone drinks.

        • Michael Gmirkin says:

          Though, the original may have been a shortening of “Hear ye, hear ye!”? Or a repetition of “Hear [well (and understand) what was just said]!” Don’t know…

  14. HumanCommodity3 says:

    I like the way that works out

  15. IF I had my way, both would be used… “Hear, hear” implies that you are actually going to say something. “Here, here” is more of a statement of affirmation for the words of another, as in “I support those remarks.” I stand here in affirmation.

    • Michael Gmirkin says:

      I’m still more of an ‘abbreviated toast’ man myself. “Here[‘s to what was just said]!” That’s how I’ve always kind of perceived it.

      “Here, here!” *Literally or figuratively raises a toast and/or everyone drinks.*

      Yeah?

  16. catsonly says:

    now, now…

  17. Phil McConnochie says:

    It’s both but I prefer ‘here here’ myself.

  18. Eleanor Garcia says:

    I have always thought that both were acceptable. “Hear, hear,” as in what has been described above, and “Here, here,” as in I am in total agreement with what has been said both in form (literally and figuratively) and thought; in essence “echoing” the speaker’s statement(s).

  19. Gus Bailey says:

    So it is the etymological evolution of “Oyeahs Oyeahs” properly spelled “Hear ye! Hear ye!”

  20. I always imagined that original form was ‘here’, indicating that here was a person who agrees with the speaker, like a roll-call or show of hands. The more ‘here’s’ you heard from the audience, the more support was present in the room, which is, after all, the way its actually used. From that, one can easily see how it would have become ‘here here’ for strong agreement, giving the impression that more people are in support.

  21. Deborah Mulholand says:

    I can just hear Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention saying, “Hear Ye. Hear Ye.” It’s an Old English form of speaking.

  22. Pete Amble says:

    It’s actually Hear, here!

  23. ulyssesmsu says:

    It’s “Here.” A speaker would say, “Here, Here” to indicate approval–“Here–I agree too. Right here!” The word “Hear” makes no sense.

  24. Brian Cobb says:

    Funny, because I generally say (and assumed logically) that it was “Hear here”, as in “Hey, listen to this guy over here”. I’ll just keep doing it my way, it makes the most sense to me.

  25. Michael Gmirkin says:

    I find it amusing that the article says “…there are ways to logically justify [here, here’s] use.” then fails to mention any of them. ;)

    • Michael Gmirkin says:

      For instance, metaphorically raising a toast “Here’s to what was just said!” with repetition for emphasis, shortened to “Here[…], here[…]!”

      As opposed to a commandment to “Hear what has just been said!” with repetition for emphasis, shortened to “Hear[…], hear[…]!”

      I could see it going either way…

  26. Maybe it should be Hear, here…as in “listen” to this person here before you

  27. Michael Cantwell says:

    The real education about “Hear, hear vs. here, here” is now presented in the comment section. “Hear, hear”? “Here, here”? “Hear, here”? “Here, hear”?
    They all seem right when a logical context is presented.

  28. I always assumed it came down from old English, Hear ye, hear ye… Which was simply a command to listen well…

  29. Could it also be, “Hear here!”?

  30. I’ve seen “here, here” in the context of a rebuke, as in, “Here, here, sir, you’ve no cause to say a thing like that!” Since the speaker disagrees with the person, she would not call for him to be heard, but would be saying, in effect, “Look here, mister…”

  31. There, there….it is neither here nor there.

  32. Jerry Kopp says:

    Why not “HEAR HERE” meaning listen here (you heard it here or come gather round and hear here
    )

  33. “listen and hear” is a common expression in the Bible (James of England) so I assumed it was ‘hear’; but thanks for the confirmation! Hear, hear! :=D

  34. Eric Wolff says:

    Oh me oh my, what have I stumbled upon. It is as though Sir Humphrey Appleby, from the television programme Yes Minister has been cloned many fold. As an international junk food manufacturer would say… I’m lovin it.

  35. The source, for “Hear, hear” is Samuel II 20:16.

    Then cried a wise woman out of the city: ‘Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab: Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.’

  36. Parody Parody says:

    You’re all wrong. That is only because the sounding of the phrase has been morphed over the years. Look back into it and you’ll find that the original phrase is “hare hair”, which, when dissected, makes much more sense than any other explanation, since the phrase is used to imply strong agreement with what has just been said. It is a shortened version of the then common phrase “I agree with what you said so completely, any difference in our arguments could not be measured by the width of a HARE’s HAIR!”

    I am flabbergasted by the fact that nobody else has been able to identify this historic origination.

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