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

More from Foreign Policy

Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.
Demonstrators and activists attend a vigil in support of Ukraine near European Union headquarters in Brussels on March 22.

How the Russian Oil Price Cap Will Work

Ignore the naysayers—the long-prepared plan is a smart way to slash the Kremlin’s profits.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a tank on a road in the Donetsk region on July 20, 2022, near the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

‘They Are Pushing Everywhere’: Kyiv Goes on the Offensive

Ukraine may have achieved its biggest breakthrough of the war.

A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.
A Chinese Communist Party flag is seen next to a health worker wearing protective clothing as a worker registers for a COVID-19 test at a makeshift testing site in Beijing on April 28.

The Chinese Public Doesn’t Know What the Rules Are Anymore

Reckless policies have knocked out established norms.

An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia
An orchestra at the Bolshoi Theatre in Russia

The Last String of Russian Greatness Is About to Snap

A great classical music tradition might die because of the Ukraine invasion.