Home / English /

Is it Whoa or Woah? (Grammar + Examples)

Is it whoa or woah? Not everyone out there is not very acquainted with the correct spelling of this popular exclamation. If you’re among those and get very confused between the Whoa and Woah then you have come to just the right place.

In this article, we are going to discuss the proper spelling as well as a common misspelling of whoa and will also present a brief overview of its origin.

Additionally, at the end of this post, we will also give a few examples of whoa and its variant spelling Woah.

Woah vs. whoa
Woah vs. whoa

What Does whoa Mean?

As per the Oxford English Dictionary, the term “whoa” is an imperative verb (an exclamation) that commands horses to slow down or stop. Woah is an acceptable spelling of the word Whoa. These spelling variants have the same meaning and usage. For instance, 

  • The Herder said ‘Whoa, there!’ to stop the horse.
  • “When one says ‘whoa’ and pulls in the reins, the horse slows from a trot or stops altogether.” 

Further, whoa is a preferred spelling used informally by American Civil Liberties Unionto express surprise, alarm, or interest. For instance, 

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa! Stop there right now” 
  • Whoa! You scared me!
  • Whoa, that is so interesting.” 

On the other hand, people on social media posts spell whoa as Woah to express surprise or interest. Other nonstandard spellings of whoa generally command attention or attract attention.

Woah vs. whoa
Woah vs. whoa

Origins of Woah

The term whoa is in use since the late 1400s at least and is considered a variant of “ho,” which is an interjection to command animals like horses to slow down or stop altogether. Around the 1800s, the word whoa started to be used generally to express excitement or surprise in the English language of the American dictionary.

Between whoa and Woah, Whoa is the actual spelling. The word Woah appeared more recently, mainly on social media posts and memes. The earliest proof of Woah in regular writing came in the 1980s from the online message board. Indeed, the expansion in the usage of Woah is often linked to digital communications.


Some English language guides consider the word Woah to be a nonstandard or incorrect spelling of the word whoa because of its more contemporary emergence.

Woah vs. whoa
Woah vs. whoa

Which One Is Correct: Whoa Or Woah?

Woah isn’t yet recorded as an official spelling variant of the spelling whoa in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. However, its usage seems to be dramatically increased nowadays. “Whoa” is still among the more common interjections in the current century. Since the word Whoa came first and was recorded in official dictionaries, it is the correct spelling.

And a last interesting message is that the spelling Woah appears to be used as and more acceptable spelling in British English but in American English.


In case you are an American, then stick to the spelling Whoa.

Examples of Whoa And Woah

Since both the words Whoa and Woah are slang terms, it is better to use them in informal writing like texts and emails, and also in verbal conversations. However, if you are writing some fictional stories and want the characters to be surprised, then how should you use Woah or Whoa?

Well, if your characters are speaking in conversation, they would use Whoa. For instance:

  • Whoa!” exclaimed a little boy seeing his brand new toy. “It is just the toy I wanted!”
  • Whoa there,” said Merry as she patted her upset horse.

But in case your characters are texting, then they rather use Woah. For instance:

  • Woah” was all Harry could type to answer his girlfriend’s message.
  • Woah boy,” John typed under his desk. “you can’t be kidding, right?”


Woah and Whoa are variant spellings expressing the same feeling, although formal linguists debate that “whoa” is the only correct spelling. However, since the term is informal— and often we spell a response as it sounds—  you will likely seeWoah” used within letters, song lyrics, or even newspaper quotes. 

Whoa is way older spelling which is considered standard spelling. In contrast, Woah is a more recent alternate spelling. Thus, Woah is considered informal or nonstandard. The two words are commonly used to mean the same things.


Which is correct Whoa or Woah?

When you wish to play it safe, you must use “whoa” rather than using “woah.” Whoa is a much older spelling than Woah and is used as a standard spelling variant. While woah is generally used in informal contexts.

So, both are correct.

How to use woah or whoa in a sentence?

Whoa is the most common spelling variant than woah. So, here is how you can use the words. Example sentences:

  • Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. What did you just say? It’s unbelievable!
  • Woah! You really did that!

Fact checked:
Content is rigorously reviewed by a team of qualified and experienced fact checkers. Fact checkers review articles for factual accuracy, relevance, and timeliness. Learn more.

About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.