Is "Dear" Dead?

Dear Neatoramanauts,

Do you still write "Dear so-and-so" in your correspondence? No?

That's what author and CNN contributor Bob Greene noticed as well:

Is "Dear" an endangered species?

It would appear to be. You may have noticed that fewer and fewer people begin their letters and notes with "Dear." Some holdouts -- I'm among them -- do, but this may be mostly out of lifetime habit. Even people who grew up using the traditional salutation -- middle-of-the-road, go-by-the-book people -- now regularly begin their notes with "Hi."

This is mostly a function of the digital-communications age. "Dear," which always looked fine atop a business letter, or a handwritten note, is increasingly seen as archaic and old-fashioned on a computer screen or on a smartphone or mobile device.

The pending disappearance of "Dear" is a sea change in the way we write to each other -- yet when you think about it, there are few logical reasons arguing for a longer life for that particular word. We've always used it, just because we've always used it.

Would you miss "Dear" if it's gone forever from our daily usage? Link


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I see it as a matter of formality. If I am writing a formal letter (which includes just about anything I'd send via postal mail), I'll include a formal salutation of "Dear " as well as a formal "Yours Sincerely" above my name at the bottom.

But that doesn't feel right for most emails, which are more structured around traditional "memos", with "To:" and "From:" at the top. I don't believe "Dear..." was standard on memos, and that carried over to electronic memos. "Dear ," feels stiff and redundant, as does the "Yours Sincerely" at the bottom.
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I use it in love letters and formal business letters when the standardized style calls for it. But in normal work correspondence, such as when I'm writing emails to Alex, I don't. I wouldn't want Alex to think that I'm flirting with him.
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I use "dear" for formal business letters and e-mails, as well as personal hand-written correspondence (which seems to be whittled down to birthday and holiday greetings anymore)

For informal business e-mails, I tend to use Good Morning or Good Afternoon, whereas quick replies garner a Hi ____.
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