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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for hey
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But the land is an enemy to be feared, while the Frenchman is not—hey!

    The Two Admirals J. Fenimore Cooper
  • Chance for me to rasp him, hey, by wishing you onto the family?

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • You can't find out where he gets all that india-rubber, hey Willems?

  • Tim Short used ter shirk on him 'ceptin' when I knowed it, an'—— hey!

    Under Fire Frank A. Munsey
  • Do not let us cover ourselves with shame—shall we, hey, my children?

    Sevastopol Lyof N. Tolsto
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
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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
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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.
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