Alternative formsEdit


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.
    Whoa, Nelly!
    • 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?
  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 notesEdit

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


Derived termsEdit



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.