Definition of hey in English:



  • 1Used to attract attention, to express surprise, interest, or annoyance, or to elicit agreement.

    ‘hey, what's going on here?’
    • ‘Hey, that reminds me. I don't think we had any calls all day.’
    • ‘So your kids might grow up a little cautious but, hey, is that so bad?’
    • ‘It's at this time of the year that I like to say to myself, hey! let's forget about the mistakes of the past year - and instead look forward with excitement to the year ahead.’
    • ‘Hey, get your hand off me!’
    • ‘I read about all the interest and I think, hey fantastic, but nobody calls me.’
    • ‘Hey! You! Come and help me!’
    • ‘Hey Megan, come here and read this.’
    • ‘So we wrote these songs to say, hey, it's cool to be different, and don't be like the squares!’
    • ‘Hey, it's my birthday weekend. I can have whatever I want.’
    • ‘And if two people love each other and really believe they can be partners for life hey, good luck to 'em.’
    1. 1.1US Used as a friendly greeting.
      ‘I just called to say hey’
      • ‘‘Gianni, this is my friend Danny, Danny this is Gianni.’ ‘Hey,’ Gianni said and sat back down next to Emily.’
      • ‘Hey, you guys, sorry I'm late.’
      • ‘I ran twice around the block and slipped back into the house where my parents were eating toast and sipping coffee. ‘Hey, Jenna,’ Mom said, passing me the plate of toast as I sat down.’
      • ‘Bill popped his head in. ‘Hey Nicole, hey Jake.’’
      • ‘‘Jenni? It's Will,’ the voice on the other end said. ‘Oh, hey Will,’ I smiled.’


  • hey up

    • informal Used as a greeting or as a way of drawing attention to something.

      ‘Hey up, Margaret!’
      ‘Hey up! Here's the cops!’
      • ‘Hey up! Look who's 'ere!’
      • ‘Just then there was a cry of ‘Hey up! Here's the cops!’’
  • what the hey

    • informal Used as a euphemism for ‘what the hell’

      ‘‘It'll be a little crowded, but what the hey?’’
      • ‘I was sceptical about how much difference these things would make or how quickly, but what the hey, I thought, it's worth trying.’
      • ‘Then he changes his mind and decides that the research results actually don't apply here, but what the hey - it's pretty interesting research anyway, so why waste all that good blogging?’
      • ‘Everyone else seems to find it a little odd, but what the hey…’
      • ‘Okay this is completely unconnected with music, but what the hey.’
      • ‘Eh, not my type of film, but what the hey - Jennifer Garner's cute.’
      • ‘My budget is a little strained this month, but I figured what the hey.’
      • ‘I hope it didn't bore you or anything… I kind of had writer's block while writing this but what the hey.’
      • ‘Now a days I see so many writers doing it, that I figure, what the hey.’
      • ‘It occurs to me that I could end up regretting this, but what the hey, Saturnalia only comes once a year.’
      • ‘It's more fun to be excited about two movies than one, so I figured, what the hey, I liked the first one; I'll see the second.’


Natural exclamation: first recorded in Middle English.