Is It Whoa or *Woah? | Meaning, Spelling & Examples

Whoa is an interjection traditionally used to command a horse (and sometimes a person) to slow down or stop. It can also be used to express surprise or shock. As an interjection, whoa is not used in formal or academic writing.

“Woah” is more popular in UK English than US English, but it’s not considered an accepted variant of whoa by many dictionaries. In US English, “woah” is still always considered nonstandard.

Examples: Woah and whoa in a sentence
  • Woah! Slow down
  • Whoa! Slow down.
  • Woah! I wasn’t expecting that.
  • Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

Whoa is an interjection

Whoa can be used as a volitive interjection to command an animal (typically a horse) or person to slow down or stop what they’re doing. Whoa is usually followed by an exclamation point to emphasize the intensity of the command or thought.

Examples: Whoa as a volitive interjection
Whoa! Please speak more slowly; I can’t understand you.

Whoa! Slow down and take a deep breath.

It can also be used as a cognitive interjection to express surprise or amazement.

Examples: Whoa as a cognitive interjection
Whoa! Is that a bear?

Whoa! Look at all those gifts!

Whoa, that’s pretty scary.

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If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

 

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Frequently asked questions

What punctuation mark is most closely associated with interjections?

Interjections are often followed by exclamation points to emphasize the intensity of an emotion, thought, or demand (e.g., “Whoa!”).

An interjection can also be followed by a period or a comma when the emotion or thought being expressed is less intense (e.g., “Oh. I didn’t know that.”).

What are some examples of interjections?

An interjection can have different meanings depending on how it is used. Some common interjections, along with an explanation of how they are commonly used, are listed below.

Interjections Function
Yes, um-hum, indeed, sure Used to express agreement
Ew, yuck, ugh Used to express disgust
Alas, damn, darn, dang, blast, shoot Used to express dissatisfaction
Yay, woo-hoo, nice, yippee Used to express joy
Whoa, wow Used to express surprise
Hmm, er, um, well Used to express uncertainty

 

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Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.

1 comment

Eoghan Ryan
Eoghan Ryan (Scribbr Team)
November 18, 2022 at 3:38 PM

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