in yiddish "oy" means "oh" and "ve" means "woe", which means "oy vey" literally means "oh woe", which can phonetically be spelled "owo"

@kittybecca know, I KNOW the connection between Yiddish and German and I know that "Weh" is the German word for "woe" and that it is also pronounced "vey" but I have literally never put all those pieces together to realize what "oy vey" actually meant until right this second

@kittybecca important to note that "oy vey, what's this?" has been a common utterance among American Ashkenazim for many decades.

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