Is it Rude to Not Say Hi Back?

When we pass people on the street, at school, or at work, and they say hi, is it rude to not say hi back? And, if so, does it make any difference if we are busy, in a rush, or in a bad mood? Read on below and learn how not to say hi back rates on the rude meter!

Is it Rude to Not Say Hi Back?

Sometimes we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or maybe something bad happens before we get to school or work. But, for whatever reason, sometimes, when people say hi, we don’t feel like saying it back.

But, does that make us rude? Even if we are in a rush or having a bad day?

In most people’s book, the answer is a resounding “yes”. 

It is considered highly rude to not take half a second and say hi back to someone who has greeted you.

How Rude Is it?


Not saying hi back rates 9 out of 10 on the rude meter. It only takes a second, if that, to say hi back to someone. For that reason alone it is rather rude to not reply when someone says hi.

Why is it Rude?

Not saying hi back to someone is rather rude as it only takes a second or less of your time to do so. At the very least you can nod your head or make eye contact and wink or something. 

When you fail to take the time to acknowledge someone back who has just greeted you with a hi or hello, there is little else to think of your reply but as rude or self-centered behavior.

Other Options to Do Instead

There are plenty of other options to do instead of simply saying hi back to someone who has greeted you with a hello or hi.

A few great options are:

  • Make eye contact and nod
  • Wink at them and move on
  • Nod your head in reply
  • Shake their hand and move on
  • Pat them on the shoulder
  • Click your tongue (and wink at them)
  • Smile really big and look them in the eye
  • Make guns with your fingers and point at them and “shoot” a few times
  • Pretend like you’re Elvis dancing and mock karate chop at them a time or time

Common Questions

How to respond to hi?

When someone says hi to you, saying hi back is the easy, breezy, beautiful thing to do. It keeps you covered, on the politeness front. That way, you don’t need to make up for being rude later on.

What to say to hi back?

If someone has said hi back to your hi, there are usually two directions the conversation goes; the person who said hi back goes on about their business and the conversation is over, or it is your turn to speak again and you engage them with an enticing “how the hell are you doing?” sort of line of questioning/conversation.

Should I say hi back?

Yes! If someone has taken the time to greet you, it is generally considered the polite thing to do to say hi back to them. If you want to be more than just cordially polite, engage them in full conversation, if not a brief one, after saying hi back to them.