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December 31, 2013

The Internet's most variously spelled word

(Continued)

The sheer breadth and depth of woah-filtration during 2013 surely exists as a source of frustration for Dan Amira. But you know who else is none too pleased with all these four-letter, "h"-ending woahs being tossed around?

"Whoah" people, that's who!

So, the members of Midnight Oil, and Chris Cillizza, and the person at BBC America who came up with the headline "Status WHOAH!" for a piece about a mincemeat ad, they're all in that crew. Joining them are the individual who maintains a Pinterest food page with the heading "Whoah!!!," thousands of mostly unknown people who posted silly videos on YouTube, and lots of other individuals who enjoy adding h's to the ends of things.

There's good news and bad news for those in the "whoah" camp. Earlier this month, just in time for the holiday shopping season, KBOI TV out of Boise, Idaho, alerted visitors to the station's website about a break at the gas pump like so: "Whoah! Gas prices in Kuna drop below $3 a gallon." News from the U.K. morning newspaper Metro in early August about the laundry habits of bachelors provided less cause for celebration: "Whoah! Single Men Wash Their Sheets 'Four Times a Year.' "

All things considered, it's been a banner year for "whoa," no matter how you prefer to spell it. In fact, the word hasn't seen this level of media saturation and pop cultural prominence since 2000, when rapper Black Rob released a rugged, very un-PC and not-safe-for-work, pre-Earl Sweatshirt club banger called "Whoa!" All the spellings, taken together, combined to form a Voltron-type superword that was pervasive in our communications this year. Sure, if you want to be all Amira about it, you could point out that "whoa" with the "h" following the "w" and an "a" at the end was once again the version that was most commonly used — due largely to the stamp of approval that goes along with being sanctioned by various books held in high regard. But there's nothing particularly new about the word spelled that way showing up all over the place (with its trusty sidekick, the exclamation point). This year in whoa-ness was noteworthy instead because it was a magical and ridiculous time when more people than ever were spelling this goofy word in more ways than ever.

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