Definition of hey in US English:



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

    ‘hey, what's going on here?’
    ‘hey, don't I know it!’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So your kids might grow up a little cautious but, hey, is that so bad?’
    • ‘Hey Megan, come here and read this.’
    • ‘Hey! You! Come and help me!’
    • ‘Hey, that reminds me. I don't think we had any calls all day.’
    • ‘I read about all the interest and I think, hey fantastic, but nobody calls me.’
    • ‘So we wrote these songs to say, hey, it's cool to be different, and don't be like the squares!’
    • ‘Hey, get your hand off me!’
    • ‘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’
      • ‘Bill popped his head in. ‘Hey Nicole, hey Jake.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘Gianni, this is my friend Danny, Danny this is Gianni.’ ‘Hey,’ Gianni said and sat back down next to Emily.’
      • ‘‘Jenni? It's Will,’ the voice on the other end said. ‘Oh, hey Will,’ I smiled.’
      • ‘Hey, you guys, sorry I'm late.’


  • what the hey

    • informal Used as a euphemism for “what the hell.”.

      • ‘Everyone else seems to find it a little odd, but 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.’
      • ‘It occurs to me that I could end up regretting this, but what the hey, Saturnalia only comes once a year.’
      • ‘Eh, not my type of film, but what the hey - Jennifer Garner's cute.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My budget is a little strained this month, but I figured what the hey.’
      • ‘Okay this is completely unconnected with music, 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.’
      • ‘Now a days I see so many writers doing it, that I figure, what the hey.’


Natural exclamation: first recorded in Middle English.