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Address vs Accost vs Greet vs Salute vs Hail

Address, accost, greet, salute and hail all mean to speak to or less often to write or make a sign to a person in recognition or in order to obtain recognition.

Address usually implies formality and definite purpose; it also frequently suggests length of speech or communication (address a petition to Congress) <how does one address a governor?)

  • it was Franklin, the thick chief mate, who was addressing him

Accost adds to address the idea of speaking first or without being introduced; it implies absence of formality and often suggests boldness or sometimes evil intent <he accosted a passerby and asked for money

  • the women . . . were accosted by two men who wanted to walk with them

Greet usually implies friendliness, goodwill, or cordiality; it is the precise word when welcoming is to be suggested.

  • the whole town appeared at the station to greet them
  • my lord, the Mayor of London comes to greet you

Salute commonly stresses ceremoniousness or observance of courtesies demanded by custom.

  • the wife of his brother . . . must be saluted every day; but his paternal and maternal kinswomen need only be greeted on his return from a journey
    William Jones
  • then 1 salute you with this kingly title: long live Richard, England’s royal king

Specifically salute applies to formal or prescribed acts of recognition.

  • the soldier saluted his superior officer
  • the president was saluted with 21 guns

Hail implies heartiness, joyousness, and often noisiness.

  • he smiled and nodded and saluted to those who hailed him

It often stresses the idea of calling out especially from a distance

  • hail a cab