Is It Whoa or *Woah? | Meaning, Spelling & Examples

Whoa is an interjection traditionally used to command a horse (and sometimes a person) to slow down or stop. It can also be used to express surprise or shock. As an interjection, whoa is not used in formal or academic writing.

‘Woah’ is more popular in UK English than US English, but it’s not considered an accepted variant of whoa by many dictionaries. In US English, ‘woah’ is still always considered nonstandard.

Examples: Woah and whoa in a sentence
  • Woah! Slow down
  • Whoa! Slow down.
  • Woah! I wasn’t expecting that.
  • Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

Be assured that you'll submit flawless writing. Upload your document to correct all your mistakes.


Whoa is an interjection

Whoa can be used as a volitive interjection to command an animal (typically a horse) or person to slow down or stop what they’re doing. Whoa is usually followed by an exclamation point to emphasise the intensity of the command or thought.

Examples: Whoa as a volitive interjection
Whoa! Please speak more slowly; I can’t understand you.

Whoa! Slow down and take a deep breath.

It can also be used as a cognitive interjection to express surprise or amazement.

Examples: Whoa as a cognitive interjection
Whoa! Is that a bear?

Whoa! Look at all those gifts!

Whoa, that’s pretty scary.

The only proofreading tool specialized in correcting academic writing

The academic proofreading tool has been trained on 1000s of academic texts and by native English editors. Making it the most accurate and reliable proofreading tool for students.

Correct my document today

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

What punctuation mark is most closely associated with interjections?

Interjections are often followed by exclamation points to emphasise the intensity of an emotion, thought, or demand (e.g., ‘Whoa!’).

An interjection can also be followed by a period or a comma when the emotion or thought being expressed is less intense (e.g., ‘Oh. I didn’t know that’.).

What are some examples of interjections?

An interjection can have different meanings depending on how it is used. Some common interjections, along with an explanation of how they are commonly used, are listed below.

Interjections Function
Yes, um-hum, indeed, sure Used to express agreement
Ew, yuck, ugh Used to express disgust
Alas, damn, darn, dang, blast, shoot Used to express dissatisfaction
Yay, woo-hoo, nice, yippee Used to express joy
Whoa, wow Used to express surprise
Hmm, er, um, well Used to express uncertainty


Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

Ryan, E. (2023, March 14). Is It Whoa or *Woah? | Meaning, Spelling & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 17 July 2024, from

Is this article helpful?
Eoghan Ryan

Eoghan has a lot of experience with theses and dissertations at bachelor's, MA, and PhD level. He has taught university English courses, helping students to improve their research and writing.