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Re: Woooooo/ Hooah

Posted by SR on February 24, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Woooooo posted by ESC on February 23, 2004

: : : : : Has it occurred to anyone else that the American service personnel's "Hoo-ah!" may be a corruption of the English shout, "Hear, Hear," meaning roughly, "Listen to what the man is saying," and is pronounced "Hee-ah, Hee-ah" in parliament.

: : : : Not me. It sounds more like a corruption (!) of "Hoo-ee!" American popular speech is full of interjections (or ejaculations?) which are not contingent on any actual words, but sound more like the directions you might give, say, to a team of horses. Yee-hah! Doesn't that sound like something a teamster would say, a bit like an alternative to Giddy-ap? Then there's "Whoa," very popular nowadays, not to be confused with "Whoo-ee," similar to but not the same as "Whoopee." I once had a neighbor who called his pigs with something like "Hoo-ee" (but not quite--the exact expression is still used only for calling pigs). SS

: : : My own suspicion is that many of our traditional
: : : "ejaculations" are less spontaneous and "natual" than we think, and are, in fact, corruptions from earlier (and much more literate) times. FD

: : You may well be right about some interjections (besides the usual "Minced oaths") having their origin in one or more actual words. I have become more aware of interjections since my family got a new TV, with closed captions. I use this a lot, since I have some hearing loss, and the captioners try to capture everything. It's one thing to hear the monster growl, another to see a caption saying "Arrrgh". I've seen a lot of occurrences of "Whoo!" that I would scarcely have noticed were it not for the captions. I don't know if you have ever turned on the captioning (assuming you have TV), but it shows you a vast wasteland of mangled English for various reasons related to the difficulty of keeping up. SS

: WOOOOO!! - "The exclamation pierces any gathering where young people are getting excited.But where did it come from? Why has it replaced everything from 'hooray' to 'right on'? Experts in linguistics and culture offer guesses about the woo's origin, but nothing firm. Maybe woo is a spin on the verb 'to woo,' meaning to attempt to attract or solicit. Perhaps it's just a syllable that is easy to project loudly, less harsh on the throat than an all-out scream." Or maybe it originated from "The Arsenio Hall Show" or "The Simpsons," TV shows that both premiered in 1989. From "It's the shout heard round the world.but where did it come from? Wooooooooooo!" by Michele M. Melendez, Newhouse News Service, Dec. 6, 2002, The Courier Journal, Louisville (Ky.)

: Back to American soldiers: I'd still like to know what they were saying in "Black Hawk Down." It was sort of a battle cry/sound of encouragement.
: The modern hooah, primarily associated with but not restricted to the infantry, originated with the Second Dragoons in Florida as "hough" in 1841. In an attempt to end the war with the Seminoles, a meeting was arranged with the Indian Chief Coacoochee. After the meeting, there was a banquet. Officers of the garrison made a variety of toasts, including "here's to luck!" and "the old grudge" before drinking. Coacoochee asked Gopher John, an interpreter, the meaning of what they said. Gopher John responded, "It means, How d'ye do," whereupon the Chief, with great dignity, lifted his cup above his head and exclaimed in a deep, guttural and triumphant voice, "HOUGH!"

And so the expression was born. It has since achieved high popularity - having lasted for more than 150 years, through the American Civil War, two world wars, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam war, Operation Just Cause in Panama and the Persian Gulf war.

And the expression continually grows in popularity. Once heard mainly from infantry soldiers, hooah has spread throughout the rest of the Army. Soldiers will continue to acknowledge a mission to be accomplished, a job well done, victory at a sporting event or any occasion imaginable with "HOOAH!"

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The Meaning(s) of Hooah.

Hooah (who-ah), adj. U.S. Army Slang. Referring to, or meaning anything and everything except "no." Generally used when at a loss for words. Also:

Good copy, solid copy, roger, good or great; message received, understood.
Glad to meet you, welcome.
I do not know, but will check on it, I haven't the vaguest idea.
I am not listening.
That is enough of your drivel- sit down.
Stop sniveling.
You've got to be kidding.
Yes.
Thank you.
Go to the next [briefing] slide.
You have taken the correct action.
I don't know what that means, but am too embarrassed to ask for clarification.
That is really neat, I want one too.
Amen.