One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Used as a command to a horse or other draft animal to stop or stand still, or to a person to stop or desist.
2Used to express pleasure, surprise, interest, etc.
An utterance of ‘whoa ho’.
Late 16th century (in an earlier sense). From whoa + ho or ho.
whoa ho/ˌwəʊ ˈhəʊ/
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