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Alternative forms[edit]


Whoa (c. 1843) is a variant of woa (c. 1840), itself a variant of wo (c. 1787), from who (c. 1450), ultimately from Middle English ho, hoo (interjection), probably from Old Norse hó! (interjection, also, a shepherd's call). Compare German ho, Old French ho ! (hold!, halt!).




  1. Stop (especially when commanding a horse or imitative thereof); calm down; slow down.
    • 2007, Ron Liebman, Death by Rodrigo, New York: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 134:
      I can see Mickie getting hot, I'm about to grab his arm, hold him back, say, Whoa, whoa, Mick, not here, it ain't worth it what happened inside just now.
  2. An expression of surprise.
    Whoa, are you serious?
    • 1985, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, Back to the Future, spoken by Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox):
      Whoa. Wait a minute, Doc. Are you trying to tell me that my mother has got the hots for me?
    • 2007 September 28, Graham Linehan, The IT Crowd, season 2, episode 6:
      Jen: Douglas has asked me to be his PA.
      Moss: Oh. My. God! Well, that is something and a half. His PA? How... Whoa! His PA... Shut up! His PA!
      Jen: It means "personal assistant".
      Moss: Thank you. Right, OK.
  3. Used as a meaningless filler in song lyrics.
    • 2003, "Weird Al" Yankovic, eBay (song)
      I am the type who is liable to snipe you
      With two seconds left to go, whoa.
    • 2010, Bruce Springsteen, It's a Shame:
      And oh whoa girl, it's a shame.
      Oh whoa girl, it's a doggone shame.

Usage notes[edit]

An alternative spelling, woah (c. 1856), is common, but it is considered an error by some.


Derived terms[edit]



whoa (third-person singular simple present whoas, present participle whoaing, simple past and past participle whoaed)

  1. (transitive) To attempt to slow (an animal) by crying "whoa".
    • 1926, Josephine Demott Robinson, The Circus Lady, page 38:
      He was whoaing the horses loudly, and they did seem to be going faster than usual—in fact, they were galloping.




Alternative spelling


Borrowed from English whoa.



whoa(ウォー) (

  1. (chiefly in popular music) wow; whoa