9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for hey
  • The game was to set these as low as possible and, hey presto, to beat them.
  • hey guys that is really cool you got to see a volcano.
  • hey, if it's not there, throw it away and play another day.
  • Gee, hey, gee it's a gas to try to solve such a conundrum.
  • hey, blond hair and blue eyes are recessive as are red hair and green eyes.
  • But hey, let's keep dreaming of a green world and put our shoulders under the anti-global-warming movement.
  • hey, laxatives worked for the guys on my high school's wrestling team.
  • Of course rail car shipping is more expensive and certainly has more emissions than by pipeline but what the hey.
  • hey solar, you paint a real pretty picture at the end of your last comment.
  • But hey, with the genome sequenced it'll be that much easier to make lab grown meat.
British Dictionary definitions for hey


a circular figure in country dancing
a former country dance in which the dancers wove in and out of a circle
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin


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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