Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[hey] /heɪ/
(used as an exclamation to call attention or to express pleasure, surprise, bewilderment, etc.)
Informal. hello: used as a greeting.
Origin of hey
1150-1200; Middle English hei Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for hey
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • hey, Scottie, shake up the fire and put on some coffee, will you?

    Way of the Lawless Max Brand
  • The night now was very dark, "with hey, ho, the wind and the rain!"

    Weighed and Wanting George MacDonald
  • It used to be "Rose," but now it was always "say" or "you" or "hey."

    Dust Mr. and Mrs. Haldeman-Julius
  • That's why he was so hot about picking a fight on the boat, hey?

    The Black Bag Louis Joseph Vance
  • What do you suppose one-legged men're going to do in the resurrection, hey, Abe?

British Dictionary definitions for hey


an expression indicating surprise, dismay, discovery, etc, or calling for another's attention
(South African) an exclamation used for emphasis at the end of a statement, or alone to seek repetition or confirmation of another person's statement
hey presto, an exclamation used by conjurors to herald the climax of a trick
Word Origin
C13: compare Old French hay, German hei, Swedish hej
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for hey

c.1200, variously, in Middle English, hei, hai, ai, he, heh, expressing challenge, rebuttal, anger, derision, sorrow, or concern; also a shout of encouragement to hunting dogs. Possibly a natural expression (cf. Roman eho, Greek eia, German hei).

Þa onswerede þe an swiðe prudeliche, `Hei! hwuch wis read of se icudd keiser!' ["St. Katherine of Alexandria," c.1200]
In Latin, hei was a cry of grief or fear; but heia, eia was an interjection denoting joy.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
Slang definitions & phrases for hey



An exclamation used to underscore mildly what is said: Pennzoil has been arguing that, hey, they are reasonable people/ I tried explaining that, hey, basically a goose is just a big duck/ Hey, I'm only human

[1980s+; the use is attenuated from the ancient call for attention found by 1225]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for hey

Word Value for hey

Scrabble Words With Friends