Oy vey (Yiddish:אױ װײ}, or just oy,[1] is an exclamation of dismay or exasperation [1] meaning "oh woe." Its sound is very similar to Ach weh, and Au weh (with which it is a cognate), a common expression used in Bavaria and Austria in similar situations, combining the German exclamation Au! meaning "Ouch/Oh" and the German word Weh meaning pain. It is however also theorized that the first part of it (oy) is originally from Biblical Hebrew, with cognates in other Semitic languages. Vey and the similar contemporary German Weh are derived from Middle High German, and are cognate with the English "woe." The term in its present form is borrowed from Yiddish,[2] "Au Gewalt" (Yiddish: אױ גװאַלד oy gvald) – which can have a similar meaning, or also express shock or amazement. Gevald! is often just used by itself to express this feeling.

It is also similar in meaning and pronunciation to the Russian term "uvy" (увы — alas), which is used to express grief or sorrow.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Oy Definition - Random House Unabridged Dictionary and Webster's New Millennium Dictionary of English
  2. CNN - CNN - January 19, 2004
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Oy vey. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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