Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from chabad.org
All Departments
Jewish Holidays
TheRebbe.org
Jewish.TV - Video
Jewish Audio
News
Kabbalah Online
JewishWoman.org
Kids Zone

What Does “Oy Vey” Mean?

What Does “Oy Vey” Mean?

E-mail

Oy and vey are two very old Jewish interjections which both mean “woe.” Oy is found many times in the Bible (see Numbers 21:29, I Samuel 4:7 and Isaiah 3:11 for a few examples). Vey is newer than oy; it is oy’s Aramaic equivalent.

Today, oy and vey are often used together. Oy vey is the ethnically Jewish way to react when you find out how much your son’s root canal will cost, or when you find out that there is a two-hour wait time for a table at the restaurant where you just arrived.

Sometimes you’ll hear people groan “oy vavoy,” which is Hebrew for “oy vey.”1 Those who prefer Yiddish lamentations will often cry “vey iz mir,” which means “woe is to me.”

Let’s pray that G‑d sends us Moshiach already, so we can stop waxing eloquent about our woes and expand our vocabulary of positive interjections!

FOOTNOTES
1. See Proverbs 23:29, where King Solomon asks, “To whom is oy and to whom is avoy?”
Chabad.org Staff
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
E-mail
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (10)
April 12, 2013
Gerbonics
The vey is Mir is the equivalent of Deutch Ebonics from a group of people who would change the local vocabulary to suit their isolated culture.
Todd
November 7, 2012
In English
I try to say( with a smile if possible) Oh yay! or Oh yeah! or Thank you Hashem I guess I need this.
chayrut
Eretz Hakodesh
November 4, 2012
"My Enemies"?
Charest - interesting background on the German. Staff Writer - Doesn't "oyvey" mean "my enemies", as in "v'chol oyvecho m'hayro yikoraysu"? (And may all your enemies be cut down speedily... from the 12th blessing of the Shemoneh Esrei)
Anonymous
Toronto
June 4, 2012
airplane
An aircraft does not have a greater ROC (rate of climb) with a headwind. The correct term is Angle of climb. An aircraft taking off into a headwind has a greater angle of climb and therefore will take less distance to achieve a certain altitude. The time it takes to climb to that altitude will not change with the wind.
mike
st louis
March 26, 2012
Airplanes
Rabbi Posner, I think that Anonymous in California means the airplane comment as an analogy. An airplane has a greater rate of climb when it takes off against the wind than when it takes off with the wind. Anonymous is suggesting that we likewise climb faster to higher spiritual levels when faced with adversity ("taking off against the wind") than when everything is easy ("taking off with the wind").

Taking off against the wind, or adversity, is a comment on the theme of this article, woe. Anonymous is saying that, just as with the airplane against the wind, in the end of it all we will see that the difficult times ultimately lifted us to a higher place more quickly than we would have made it to otherwise.
Anonymous
Brooklyn, NY
January 3, 2012
KVETCH KVETCH KVETCH
Ah, now I can kvetch in three different ways, all ethnically appropriate when the "bad" happens. Actually, maybe it was a commentary in the ZOHAR that says that, when the MOSHIACH comes, everything----the "good" and the "evil" will be seen to have been necessary for the ultimate END of things. So maybe we should SING a song, a happy song, when so-called "bad" things happen to us also.
SHLOMO ben YAKOV GOLDMAN
LEON, MEXICO
December 7, 2011
Oy Vey
I think the Yiddish version of "oy vey iz mir" is a direct descendant of the German "Au weia" or "Oh weh ist mir" which means exactly the same thing. Or it could be that German borrowed it from Yiddish.
Stephen G. Charest
Lincoln, Nebraska
November 10, 2011
Come again?
Perhaps I'm missing the point because it's after my bedtime, but how does this article related to airplanes?
Eliezer Posner
November 8, 2011
CoachTJ
Very accurate, Rabbi. another good example of this is how an airplane takes off with a greater rate of climb if it is going against the wind, than with the wind.
Anonymous
Orangevale, California
March 8, 2010
...maybe waxing positive is part of what will help moshiach to come!
DC Jessup
Seattle, WA
FEATURED ON CHABAD.ORG