Hey



[hey] /heɪ/

interjection
1.
(used as an exclamation to call attention or to express pleasure, surprise, bewilderment, etc.)
2.
Informal. hello: used as a greeting.
/heɪ/
interjection
1.
an expression indicating surprise, dismay, discovery, etc, or calling for another’s attention
2.
(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
3.
hey presto, an exclamation used by conjurors to herald the climax of a trick

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.

interjection

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]

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