Origin of whoa
Words nearby whoa
What does whoa mean?
Whoa is used to express that something is impressive, surprising, or astounding, as in Whoa! Look at that sunset! In this sense, it’s very similar to wow.
Whoa is also used as a command to stop. This command is especially associated with its use to get a horse to stop or slow down.
Whoa is an interjection, meaning it’s typically used by itself outside of a sentence.
Some people spell it woah.
Example: When I told Keanu that the horse was running right at him, he just stood there and said, “Whoa.”
Where does whoa come from?
The first records of the word whoa are in reference to the command to stop, especially when given to a horse. It’s thought to be a variant of the word ho, which was an earlier way of commanding a horse to stop (and a good way to remember that it’s spelled whoa).
It’s still used as a command to stop for horses and people, as in Whoa there, slow down or OK, whoa, let’s not celebrate until all the votes are in.
The first records of the use of whoa as an interjection when impressed or surprised come from the late 1800s. This is how it’s most often used today. People say whoa when they see or hear something impressive, as in Whoa, that looks delicious! or Whoa, lightning just hit the tree! Whoa isn’t always exclaimed. Sometimes, it’s said softly to express amazement. This is especially the case when whoa is used as a one-word response. For example, if someone tells you something really surprising, you might just say, “Whoa.”
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How is whoa used in real life?
Whoa is very informal. It’s most often used to show that you’re impressed.
Whoa ‼️ What just happened 😲
Impressive skills 👏👏👏 https://t.co/7qFrq2ZxKv
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) May 12, 2020
Whoa! Incredible shot of the storm that just passed BDL from Alexandra Lukianoff in Hartford. pic.twitter.com/2cSRkGQU8R
— Ryan Hanrahan (@ryanhanrahan) May 11, 2020
As a former cowboy I can tell you that horses ONLY respond to whoa 😉
— Eric Leach (@flyineric) September 27, 2018
Try using whoa!
Is whoa used correctly in this sentence?
Whoa, that roller-coaster ride was intense!
How to use whoa in a sentence
One can only assume the hangover cries: “whoa, who did I vote for last night?”
She then warns Russia to leave Ukraine alone, to which “Putin” replies, "Whoa, hey Capt. Buzzkill!"
I do remember uttering Whoa, channeling my inner Keanu Reeves.Super Bowl’s ‘Nipplegate’ Fiasco 10 Years Later: The Pop Diva, the Boob, and the Outrage|Marlow Stern|February 1, 2014|DAILY BEAST
But when he comes across ScarJo, who says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa: no sex before monogamy”—which is my role—he has to pay the toll.‘Millionaire Matchmaker’s’ Patti Stanger On ‘Don John,’ Porn Addiction, and Relationships|Patti Stanger|September 29, 2013|DAILY BEAST
It came out right as I was about to graduate and I think people were like, “Whoa, maybe she was pretty!”Heather Graham on ‘The Hangover Part III,’ Roles for Women, and More|Marlow Stern|May 24, 2013|DAILY BEAST
"Whoa, Bob," he said soothingly, and one of them whinnied back in response as if glad to know that a human being was near.The Underworld|James C. Welsh
With one foot on the brake, he was whoa-hawing his four-horse team and talking like a pirate.Motor Matt's Daring, or, True to His Friends|Stanley R. Matthews
"Whoa, boy," he soothed, patting the animal gently on the neck.The Pony Rider Boys in Texas|Frank Gee Patchin
"Whoa," he cried excitedly, and Speed came to a stop and sat down on the ice.Kernel Cob And Little Miss Sweetclover|George Mitchel
But it would not be well for even Geronimo to give Whoa the lie.The Story of Geronimo|James Arthur Kjelgaard