April 23, 2004

Hey day

Today was the last day of spring term classes at Penn, and therefore it was also hey day, when the junior class celebrates the beginning of their end. The OED explains that "hey-day" is "apparently a compound of [the interjection] HEY; the second element is of doubtful origin, but at length identified with day. The early heyda agrees in form, but less in sense, with Ger. ˈheida, heiˈda = hey there!".

The sense is given as "An exclamation denoting frolicsomeness, gaiety, surprise, wonder, etc.", and the citations include others 1598 B. JONSON Ev. Man in Hum. IV. ii, Hoyday, here is stuffe! , a sentiment with which I'm sure we can all agree.

There is also a noun hey-day or heyday, which the OED says is "Of uncertain origin; perh. connected with prec." (I love how the OED saves space by abbreviating words like "perhaps"), and glosses as "1. State of exaltation or excitement of the spirits or passions." or "2. The stage or period when excited feeling is at its height; the height, zenith, or acme of anything which excites the feelings; the flush or full bloom, or stage of fullest vigour, of youth, enjoyment, prosperity, or the like."

And that's exactly what it was.

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 23, 2004 05:10 PM