Oy vey (Yiddish: אױ װײ), oy vay, or just oy--or even more elaborately oy vey, oh weh!--is an exclamation of dismay or exasperation like "woe is me".
3 In popular culture,
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According to etymologist Douglas Harper, the phrase is derived from Yiddish and is of Germanic origin. It is a cognate of the German expression Oh weh, or Au weh, a common expression used in Bavaria and Austria in similar situations, combining the German and Dutch exclamation Au! meaning "Ouch/Oh" and the German word Weh, a cognate of the English word woe (as well as the Dutch wee meaning pain). The expression is also related to Oh ve, an older expression in Danish and Swedish, and Oy Wah, an expression used with a similar meaning in the Montbéliard region in France.
According to Chabad.org, an alternative theory for the origin of the Yiddish expression is that it stems from Biblical Hebrew, with cognates in other Semitic languages.
The expression is often abbreviated to simply oy, or elongated to oy vey ist mir ("Oh, woe am I"). The fuller lament may also be spelled as Oy vey iz mir. The main purpose or effect of elongating it is often dramatic, something like a "cosmic ouch".Oy is not merely an ordinary word, but rather expresses an entire world view, according to anthropologist Penny Wolin. Its meaning is approximately opposite that of mazel tov.
In popular culture:
In New York City, there is a sign on the Williamsburg Bridge that reads "Leaving Brooklyn: Oy vey!" because of the borough's large Jewish population.
Weird Al Yankovic's song "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi" on his album Running with Scissors frequently uses the phrase.
Eminem uses the term in his song "Rap God". The lyric was used in the midst of a string of controversial lines, that continue his public Homophobia controversy.