‘Yay' or 'Nay': What's the Difference Between the Two?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 28, 2022

In the middle of writing, but can’t decide whether to use ‘yay’ or ‘nay’? We’ve got you covered. We’ll discuss that, plus teach you how to use both in a sentence correctly.

The short answer is that ‘yay’ is affirmative and means ‘yes,’ while ‘nay’ usually means ‘no.’

‘Yay’ or ‘Nay’ – What’s the Difference?

So, you just learned that there’s a difference between ‘yay’ and ‘nay.’ The former usually means ‘yes,’ and the latter means ‘no.’ Therefore, although they sound similar, these two words can’t be used interchangeably.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Yay’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘yay’ is: “used to express joy, approval, or excitement.”

Definition and Meaning of ‘Nay’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘nay’ is: “used to correct what has just been said by replacing a word with one that is more accurate or appropriate,” “no,” “denial, refusal,” “a negative reply or vote,” “one who votes no.”

Similar Confusing Words

There are several words in the English language that sound similar (or completely the same) but mean something different. Take a look at a few examples.

Your vs. You’re

These words sound identical, but they mean different things. ‘Your’ shows possession, and ‘you’re’ is a contraction of ‘you are.’

Margarita vs. Margherita

Just like ‘yay’ and ‘nay,’ ‘margarita’ and ‘margherita’ sound similar, but they mean two different things. A ‘margarita’ is used when referring to the drink, while the word ‘margherita’ is used when referring to a pizza.

Famous vs. Infamous

Another set of confusing words that sound similar but mean different things is ‘famous’ and ‘infamous.’ ‘Famous’ means known and recognized by many people. ‘Infamous’ means well-known for something bad.

Now that we know what both words mean let’s see some examples of how to use both in a sentence correctly.

How to Use ‘Yay’ in a Sentence Correctly

Check out some examples of how to use ‘yay’ in a sentence:

  • We all voted yay on the board’s proposal.
  • I wanted to vote yay on the proposal, but I wasn’t sure what to do.
  • Yay, we get ice cream after school!
  • There’s a simpler way to solve this than voting yay.

How to Use ‘Nay’ in a Sentence Correctly

Now let’s see some examples of how to use ‘nay’ in a sentence:

  • Each joiner has to vote yay or nay.
  • I’m going to say nay to dinner tonight; I’ve got a lot of work to do.
  • At the office, we vote yay or nay on meals for Free Lunch Friday.
  • I’m voting ‘nay’ on the company proposal to get rid of Casual Friday.

Final Thoughts on ‘Yay’ and ‘Nay’

Now that we know what both ‘yay’ and ‘nay’ mean, it shouldn’t be hard to use them in a sentence correctly in your own writing (especially with the above examples).

If you ever get stuck, just remember that ‘yay’ means ‘yes’ (and they start with the same letter), just like ‘nay’ means ‘no’, and they both start with the same letter.

We’ve got an entire library of content dedicated to explaining confusing words and phrases, so if you ever need help, come on back and feel free to browse at your leisure.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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