Applegate (8) raises a question about how this should be pronounced. The favored American way is “hi-ho,” and that is the way the old D’Oyly Carte Opera Company sang it for a time. Then they changed to “hay-ho.” The switch is staunchly defended by Williams (316) in a letter to The Gilbert and Sullivan Journal. But, let it be noted that in Princess Ida “heigho-let” must rhyme with violet. In any event, Webster (307) says the expression is “used typically to express boredom, weariness or sadness and sometimes to serve as a cry of encouragement.” (That last must have been what those seven dwarfs had in mind.) The dictionaries all seem to split heigho with a hyphen (heigh-ho), but perhaps they will change now that we point out how Gilbert spelled it.

With a sad heigho!
Act I