Opa (expression)

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"Opa" exclaimed by a waiter in a Greek restaurant in Chicago while lighting saganaki on fire

Opa (Greek: ώπα) is a common Mediterranean, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, North African, South American, and Jewish emotional expression. It is frequently used during celebrations such as weddings or traditional dancing.[1] In Greek culture, the expression sometimes accompanies the act of plate smashing.[2] It can also be used to express enthusiasm, shock or surprise, or just after having made a mistake.

Opa is also used in many European countries such as Italy, Switzerland, Malta, Cyprus, Northern Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Belarus, Estonia, Ukraine, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Albania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Armenia, and Georgia as well as many Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Oman, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and North African countries like Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and the Sahrawi Republic as an expression of shock and surprise, or in their traditional folk dances. In Jewish culture, it is used for mazel tov. Arabs and Israelis sometimes pronounce it as "obah" (in Arabic, due to the absence of the letter "p" in classical Arabic), and especially use the expression when picking up or playing with children.

Opa also appears in Brazil, Portugal, Spain and Cape Verde. A less common variation is "epa". Besides being used as an emotional expression, opa (or epa) can also be used as a way of getting someone's attention (similar to "Hey!" in English). In Romanian (hopa) and Russian culture (опа) it is used during the short phase of concentration on an action (similar to "come on" in English), the expectation of successful process during the action and the subsequent completion of it, for example, when throwing a basketball into the basket, getting off the bike, or picking up a child.

The equivalent Kalmyk expression is khädris (Oirat: хәдрис), a shortened form of khädris avad od (Oirat: хәдрис авад од, [xæˈdris ˌavadˈot]), literally meaning "come and take it".


  1. ^ Pattakos, Alex (17 May 2015). "Everybody Say 'OPA!'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  2. ^ Regula, deTraci. "Opa!". about.com. Retrieved 19 April 2015.

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of ώπα at Wiktionary