Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Army history: What is the origin of that all-important Army word, ‘hooah’?

I think I might have come across the origin of that most Army-ish of utterances, “hooah.”

160426-F-LX370-168C
160426-F-LX370-168C

 

I think I might have come across the origin of that most Army-ish of utterances, “hooah.” And no, I don’t think it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.” Nor do I think it is related to the Vietnamese word for “yes.”

Rather, I suspect it might have come from “hous,” which was “the universal sign of approbation on the Plains” in the 19th century, Paul Majid writes in his fine biography of General George Crook.

 

I think I might have come across the origin of that most Army-ish of utterances, “hooah.” And no, I don’t think it stands for “Heard, Understood, Acknowledged.” Nor do I think it is related to the Vietnamese word for “yes.”

Rather, I suspect it might have come from “hous,” which was “the universal sign of approbation on the Plains” in the 19th century, Paul Majid writes in his fine biography of General George Crook.

So, for example, when Crook told a group of Indian chiefs that he would let them leave the reservation to go on a buffalo hunt, and would send troops with them to prevent interference with that hunt, they responded, Majid writes, “with enthusiastic ‘hous.’” That’s a big hooah.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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