O.E. hwi, instrumental case (showing for what purpose or by what means) of hwæt (see what), from P.Gmc. *khwi (cf. O.S. hwi, O.N. hvi), from PIE *qwei, locative of *qwo- "who" (cf. Gk. pei "where"). As an interjection of surprise or to call attention to a statement, recorded from 1519.