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I noticed this on few occasions. Unfortunately, I can't remember exact situations.

I want to clarify if どうも in a role of 'hello' is a shortened version of some longer phrase or just a phrase on its own. When is it okay to use it? Does it have any hidden nuance?

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In case you don't want to or can't read the article Yang linked to, it begins by quoting two senses listed in the [日本国語大辞典]{にほんこくごだいじてん} which I will reproduce here in Japanese and translation:

④感謝したり詫びたりする気持ちを含む挨拶(あいさつ)に用いる。内容も省略し、「どうもどうも」と重ねて用いることも多い。(以下、用例略。)

⑤あいまいな、または安易な挨拶のことばとして用いる(以下、用例略。)

And my translation:

(4) Used as a greeting that include feelings of gratitude and apology. Frequently, both the contents [for which one is grateful or apologizing] are omitted and the word is repeated as "dōmo dōmo" (following usage examples omitted). (5) Used as a greeting ambiguously or lightly.

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    So, basically, I can use it as 'hi' and to say sorry and there is no hidden meaning and nuance there, right?
    – dimadesu
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 15:00
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    @dimadesu not sure what you mean by hidden nuance, but picking the right greeting while straying away from おはようございます and こんにちは can get pretty complex pretty quickly. I think どうも could be a rather rude greeting in some social contexts. I seem to recall this being the standard greeting in dramas from unwanted stepchildren dropped off at the door. Normally, you'd probably want to throw on a 、よろしくお願いします afterwards to make it more respectable.
    – virmaior
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 15:31

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