“Ahoy” as a nautical greeting can be traced back to 1750, with its popularisation only occurring towards the end of the 19th century.

Some records even suggest “ahoy” could derive from the Viking word “hail” used for greeting. In ancient Danish they used the word “hui” and in French the word “ohe”, both deriving form central Danish “hoey” and “hode”. All of the aforementioned greetings are believed to originate from Old High German, where the word “huota” meant protection.

The nautical term “ahoy” first came into use in England as a call sign for ships, and later began being used as a greeting, for expressing both welcome and farewell. Funnily enough, Czechs and Slovaks still use “ahoy” as an informal greeting today.

Mr. Burns: “Ahoy-hoy”

A wide spread popularisation of “ahoy” didn’t happen until The Simpsons – an animated comedy series that began airing in the late 80s, used it as a phone-answering catch phase for one of its characters.

Today “ahoy” is often used among sailors as a greeting, but can also be used as a callout amongst seamen meaning “watch out”, or simply to get ones attention.