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What does it exactly mean if somebody says "Hello, Trouble" to you?

One of my colleagues said "Hello, Trouble" to me this morning. I just replied "Hi", as I was not sure what to say.

So just wanted to check what exactly Trouble here means...

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    Most likely 'Trouble' here is a (temporary) nickname given to the greeted one because they either caused it (trouble) or attracted it somehow. More context is needed to give a more specific answer. – Victor Bazarov Aug 31 '15 at 17:23
  • I added the "meaning-in-context" tag; now please edit your question to add context: Where did you encounter this phrase? Who said it? To whom was it said? What was the reply (if any)? etc. – It's Over Aug 31 '15 at 17:37
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    What @Victor said. It's a "not uncommon" ironically friendly colloquial greeting in the UK - often by older people when a child with a reputation for being mischievous arrives, but it can certainly be used among older people. It doesn't imply that you could use it as an "ad-hoc" nickname in contexts like Because he was naughty, I'm not giving Trouble any sweets (that's a "credible, but unlikely" usage). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 31 '15 at 17:54
  • It would help to have more context. It could be "Hello, Trouble!" in a joking way meaning here comes someone likely to stir up some problems, or it could be a play on the "Hello Kitty" character, or any number of other things. Without understanding more about the circumstances where it was said, it's difficult to say. – ColleenV parted ways Aug 31 '15 at 17:54
  • I came by this thread cause a friend recently said to me 'here comes trouble' I know it was in a jokingly way. Reading the stuff about flirting part of me kind of got excited for a minute but I think in this context it was a friendly etc because when I see him the night before I had on a Brisbane broncos shirt when he follows rabbitohs (nrl) if this site is American). Anyway have found all these comments quiet interesting – Mandy Oct 20 '17 at 12:18
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One possibility is that the greeting is intended ironically or sarcastically. An ostensibly meek, mild-mannered person might be greeted with "Hello, Trouble" or "Here comes trouble!" as a way of teasing them. This is similar to calling a very large person "Tiny".

You might say this to anyone, really, but it's one of those things that's funnier when it's not true.

  • Thanks Mowzer and James, both of your answers helped me understand the context. And also I thank others for there comments. – Srekk Aug 31 '15 at 20:57
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It's a flirtatious phrase often said by a man to a/n (attractive) woman (of child-bearing age).

It's a backhanded way of saying, I like you. and I'm attracted to you. without actually saying it directly. (It can also be used sarcastically by being said to or about a woman who might look a little "edgy" or "slutty" — again, depending on context.)

The word trouble (in this context) alludes to the fact that attractive women often get men into "trouble" because attractive women can often get men to do things men would not otherwise do. Like spend money, cheat on their wives, "make babies," get married, etc.

It's a way of opening the door for you to respond back to the speaker in a similarly flirtatious way. Thereby, opening the door for him to talk to you in a more personal way with the goal of eventually "dating" you.

Alternative Theories

To borrow a phrase from JR's page: Context is everything.

So, in an effort to give a complete answer, a "flow chart" of possible meanings comes to mind as follows.

  1. Is the OP an attractive adult female of child-bearing age and is the speaker a (presumably) heterosexual adult male? If "yes" to both, I would estimate the odds of the meaning provided above to be roughly 95% to 99%. If "no" to either, go to step 2.

  2. Does the OP match the description in Tyler James Young's answer: "meek, mild-mannered?" If "yes," I would estimate the odds of that answer being the correct interpretation at 95%-99%. If "no," go to step 3.

  3. Consider the following alternative meanings.

    • It's sometimes a backhanded way of a senior male paying a junior male a half-compliment, half-slight. For example, if the junior male is "studly" or "manly" in some way by either being good-looking, attractive to women, good at sports or a "bad boy." (Or intelligent or wealthy too, for that matter.)

    • If the speaker is speaking to a child, it could be the meaning described by FumbleFingers in his/her comment to the OP.

    • If the speaker is (nominally) speaking to a pet, it could have a similar meaning as FumbleFinger's description; only applied to a pet instead of a child.

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    This is a viable possibility, but it's entirely possible that the term was used in a more general, good-natured way, and not in such a suggestive one. – J.R. Aug 31 '15 at 18:33
  • @J.R.: Agreed. In my personal experience, I'd estimate about 4-out-of-5 times that comment is made, there is some level of flirtation or innuendo attached to it. It depends on the speaker. The OP would have to evaluate the entire context of their patterns of interaction with the speaker in order to "read the situation" accurately. This answer should not be taken as a definitive interpretation of the speaker's meaning. But it should make the OP aware of a commonly correct interpretation of its meaning in general. As mentioned, I'd give it about 80% odds based on the information presented. – Mowzer Aug 31 '15 at 18:53
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    Roger that. I think it's good advice to avoid using the statement, because of the possible suggestive overtones. However, in this case, the O.P. is the recipient, not the speaker – and I wouldn't want to see a harassment suit started over an ELL answer that's only true 80% of the time. :^) – J.R. Aug 31 '15 at 19:12
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    I disagree howvthisvis presented as always flirting, as its usually not. – Andy Sep 1 '15 at 0:53
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    -1: I have never heard this phrase used in a flirtatious way. It is almost always (in my experience) used from an adult to a child, in a joking manner. Used from adult-to-adult it's just a cheeky, jokey greeting (although I have to admit, an unusual one!). – AndyT Sep 1 '15 at 9:09
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It is not always a flirtatious greeting but nearly always friendly.

Can be joking. Very very rarely because you actually caused a problem, and if you actually did cause a problem, can ease tension. (source- native speaker)

  • (This is not a phrase you would use with a superior or other formal situations!) – chauxvive Sep 2 '15 at 16:40
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When you greet a kid you can say "hello little troublemaker" or hello trouble for short. you can apply it to adults too. That is the context I would typically hear/use it.

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I regularly call my boyfriend ‘troublemaker’ because he is mischievous when he is being flirtatious. He causes me ‘trouble’ because he make me want to do things like continue talking to him more when I should be doing other things, like sleeping. It’s affectionate in that way.

If it’s a colleague, they are probably just trying to break the ice with you/ become closer in a friendly way. English is funny that way, it’s much more the tone and context in which a person says something than the words themselves. (I know other languages have that too, but it can be so confusing at times, even for a native English speaker)

If they were smiling/laughing or if they looked serious and then grinned after you said hello. It was just friendly teasing and they want to be more casual with you, which is often a good sign with colleagues.

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A person who gives you that pet nickname or makes a statement “Hello Trouble” or “Here comes Trouble” is flirting with you and is attracted to you. It's a way of saying that you are causing them trouble with sexual attraction to you (and not that you are really a troublemaker or someone who causes trouble). They know that the realization of a relationship, whether short term or long term, is probably not possible since the attraction may not be mutual, or that they have a history of poor relationships and don’t know how to be up front about it, or there is something else standing in the way (perhaps both of you are in another relationship). They make themselves feel comfortable around you by labeling you and the possibility of a sexual relationship as something negative (like it’s taboo). Its like they are pushing trouble away, but they really, really want trouble. If you are trying to break the ice with them, ask them "Why do you call me trouble?"

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    Absolutely not! "Hello trouble" is simply a jocular greeting, no different to dozens of others in common use. There is no sexual connotation whatsoever. – Chenmunka Sep 23 '16 at 13:56
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    Your answer might be better received if you focused more on English and less on relationship advice. – ColleenV parted ways Sep 23 '16 at 14:16

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