Having checked out the definitions of the Italian word eh (IPA pronunciation: /ɛ/) in the Treccani online dictionary and contrasted its meanings with those for the English word eh (IPA pronunciation: /ei/) so common in Canadian English in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, it seems to me as though besides the fact that these words have the same spelling the ways these words are used in both languages are extremely close to one another.

Could these two words be linked from an etymological point of view, or is the similarity pointed out just a coincidence that comes about as a result of the fact that many languages share a common set of one or two letter interjections and exclamations which tend to somewhat overlap by virtue of being few and conveying a similar array of meanings at the same time?

1 Answer 1


The word "eh" doesn't have any meaning by etymology, it is just an exclamation. I cited the link that you posted:

"Esclamazione che può esprimere VARI SENTIMENTI."

It hasn't a meaning by itself, it is just used sometimes to forerun an exclamation, to underline and strengthen it.

Thus, coming back to your question, I would say that it is just a coincidence, due to the strong tone of the "e" vowel, that can make its sound very sharp and suitable in many situations.

  • True, I guess interjections (AKA exclamations) don't really have any etymology attached to them. I guess it was just my impression. Thanks. Jan 22, 2015 at 16:22

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