Slang Word of the Day: Ioi!

Muchisimas gracias to commenter Andrei for reminding me of one of the funniest “slang” words in Romanian.

The word is ioi, pronounced “yoy” as if it rhymed exactly with “toy”.

This word apparently doesn’t exist in the DEX but I’ve seen Romanians debate its origin and exact meaning.

Nonetheless, it is almost identical to another Romanian word, vai (vye) which has the best definition in the history of all dictionary definitions:

VAI interj. A word which vocalizes (intense) feelings of: a) pain, suffering, deprivation, despair b) compassion, mercy, regret, trouble, oddity c) happiness, pleasure, admiration, enthusiasm d) impatience; e) surprise.

Yes! Essentially it’s a handy word ;)

Well I think ioi is probably more akin to an interjection of either surprise or a feeling of incredulity, especially related to “oddity”. In other words, when something surprises you by being weird or unexpected, the first word of your response is going to be ioi.


11 thoughts on “Slang Word of the Day: Ioi!

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m seeing the “ioi” next to the “vai”… but even when I saw the “vai” by itself, it seemed relatively plausible that at least one of those words might be a long lost loan phrase from Yiddish ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


  2. Preferatul meu e “noh”, tot specific Ardealului. Aş zice că reuşeşte să concentreze milenii de înţelepciune în doar 3 sunete “noh”.

    – Vecine ţi-a murit pisica?

    Vecinul, în loc să răspundă:

    -“Da vecine, a murit, era batrana si bolnava de cancer, nu mai vedea cu un ochi şi isi pierduse vocea, dar noi tot o iubeam pentru ca era a noastra de peste 10 ani si ne-a amuzat de multe ori cu cheful ei nebun de joacă si energia debordantă de care dadea dovada.”

    … e suficient să zică “Apăi noh…”


  3. Girls outside Transylvania find it kinda cute, especially when it’s used properly(intonation and all).

    My preferred way of using it is mostly with a long “o” so it’s emphasized.


  4. yeah..i’m from moldova and we never use it….mostly we use “vai”…..also another transylvanian (maybe?) word that would be nice for you to take a look at is “mintenas”….i effin love that word….


  5. One characteristic of “ioi” is that it is used mostly in Transylvania. You will never hear “ioi” pronounced in a conversation with a Moldovean or a Muntean.

    Here’s a possible translation for “ioi”: Wow!

    And how about another unique expression, also specific to Transylvania:

    “Tulai, Doamne!”


    1. I think “ioi” is untranslatable into English. you simply can’t convey the feeling of “ioi” with any English word :)

      “wow” is far from “ioi”, it’s not as juicy, and plus it means surprise+ pleasure or admiration; “ioi”, while it expresses surprise, it doesn’t necessarily express pleasure. it’s surprise + incredulity, as our very Romanian host says above.

      btw, i think Cristina Hanganu Bresch from Fantasy Pieces can help out with a translation of “ioi” into English, if any such word equivalent exists :)

      great blog! i will come back to read more.


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