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Whoa or Woah—Which Is Correct?

Updated on May 20, 2019Grammar

Sometimes it’s easy to sound out the spelling of words, but other times it’s not so easy. For example, which is correct—whoa or woah?

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It’s whoa. This interjection means “stop.” You might use it as a command to stop a galloping horse. Or, if you are having a conversation, you might use it to encourage your partner to pause. You can even use it when something unexpected or amazing gives you pause. This last meaning probably gave rise to the slang expression “like whoa.” It means that something is excellent, amazing, or has a great deal of some particular quality. Let’s look at some examples.

I grabbed the horse’s bridle and said, “Whoa, Nelly!”

Whoa , I love your car’s new paint job!

The smoothie I made this morning was like whoa .

How to remember the spelling of whoa

How can you avoid the temptation to spell whoa with the H at the end? A simple trick to remember the spelling of whoa is to remember that it begins with the question word who. If you like rhymes, you can just memorize a phrase to remember which two letters are in the middle of whoa: Never say whoa to a horse named HO.


“Whoa, there.” Fang smiled and reached up, tracing a hand down the side of my face, winding strands of my hair around his fingers. “Stop talking and let me just tell you how great it is to wake up staring at your face. Okay?”
James Patterson, Nevermore

It’s like the grief has been covered over with some kind of blanket. It’s still there, but the sharpest edges are . . . muffled, sort of. Then, every now and then, I lift the corner of the blanket just to check, and . . . whoa! Like a knife! I’m not sure that will ever change.”

The lunch menu, served daily until 3:30 p.m., includes every Polish delight. Mouth culture like whoa.

Is it easier to spell whoa now that you have a couple of handy tricks? You might want to tackle some other commonly misspelled words. For example, do you know the misspelling that keeps you from cake?

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