Intermediate+ Word of the Day: whoop

whoop (noun, verb) /hwup, hwʊp, wup, wʊp/ LISTEN

A whoop is a loud shout or cry, usually indicating excitement, enthusiasm, or joy. As a verb, to whoop means ‘to make a loud cry or shout’ or ‘to utter something with a whoop.’ Owls and other birds also whoop.

Example sentences

  • The children let out whoops as the sled slid down the hill.
  • The crowd whooped as the athlete crossed the finish line in record time.
  • "Yes!" Charlie whooped. "I won!"
  • An owl whooped, breaking the silence of the night.

Words often used with whoop

whoop it up (informal, dated): to celebrate noisily. Example: “The students were whooping it up after the exams were over.”

whoop up (informal, dated): to promote. Example: “The politician was trying to whoop up interest in her campaign.”

not worth a whoop (informal, dated): worthless. Example: “You can’t believe a word they say; their promises aren’t worth a whoop.”

In pop culture

Many people these days are turning to technology to help them improve their fitness levels. That means many people are using fitness wearables (technological items that you wear and that help you with fitness training). One popular wearable at the moment is called the whoop strap. You can find out more about it in this video:

Additional information

The whooper swan is a large white swan. However, be careful. Although the “w” sound at the beginning of the word whoop is pronounced, it is not pronounced in whooper swan, which sounds like hooper swan. Meanwhile, a whooping crane is a tall aquatic bird found in North America. Its name comes from the whooping sound it makes, and in this case, the “w” sound is pronounced.

Did you know?

The medical condition whooping cough is so called because one of the symptoms is that patients make a whooping sound, with a deep inhalation of air, following a fit of coughing. It used to be quite a common childhood disease, but now there is an effective vaccination against it, so few people get it.


Whoop dates back to the mid-14th century, in the form of the Middle English verb houpen. It origin is imitative of the sound of a celebratory shout, but was also influenced by the Old French verb huper or houper (to cry out or shout). It may also have been influenced by a much older verb, the Old English hwōpan, which meant ‘to threaten.’ This would also make it related to the Gothic verb hwopan (to boast). The verb has been spelled with a wh– since the mid-15th century. Whoop has been used as an interjection since the early 15th century. The noun comes from the verb, and dates back to around the year 1600. Whooping cough is recorded as far back as the early 18th century, but it was often spelled hooping cough in the beginning. The verbal phrase whoop up dates back to the late 19th century.

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