AskDefine | Define hurrah

Dictionary Definition

hurrah n : a victory cheer; "let's give the team a big hurrah" [syn: hooray] v : shout `hurrah!'

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms



  1. Expressing approval, appreciation, or happiness.


expressing approval, appreciation, or happiness


  1. A cheer; a cry of hurrah!.

Derived terms


a cheer; a cry of hurrah

Extensive Definition

Huzzah (originally huzza) is an English interjection of joy or approbation. According to the Oxford English Dictionary it is "apparently a mere exclamation" without any particular derivation. Whatever its origins, it has seen occasional literary use since at least the time of Shakespeare. It may be a contraction of "Hosanna!", which is Hebrew for "O Lord, save me" or "O Lord, save".


Huzzah may be categorized with such interjections as hoorah and hooray. According to the OED, "In English the form hurrah is literary and dignified; hooray is usual in popular acclamation."
In common usage, such as cheers at sporting events and competitions, distinction need not be made by the speaker and the words are distinguished by regional dialect and accent.


Hooray comes from the Mongolian Hurree, used by Mongol armies and spread throughout the world during the Mongol Empire of the 1200s. In Mongolian Hurree is a sacred praise much like amen or hallelujah.
The OED notes that in the 17th and 18th centuries it was identified as a sailor's cheer or salute, and thus was possibly related to words like heeze and hissa which are cognates of hoist.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, three 'huzzahs' were given by British infantry before a charge, as a way of building morale and intimidating the enemy. The book 'Redcoat' by Richard Holmes indicates that this was given as two short 'huzzahs' followed by a third sustained one as the charge was carried out.


The term huzzah has been adopted, with no change in meaning, by modern gamers and those involved in the Renaissance Fair circuit. This was popularized by the comic strip Knights of the Dinner Table and the long-running television series Mystery Science Theater 3000. Recently, the character Tobias from the television show Arrested Development used this expression, as well as the character Balrog from the popular freeware computer game Cave Story, who would always declare it upon entering a room.


"Huzzah" is also the exclamation used by the slapstick villain Punch as he outwits the Devil in the finale of the classic version of the Punch and Judy show, which dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries in England.
Though it is often pronounced [hə'zɑː], a piece entitled Essay on Man by 18th century poet Alexander Pope rhymes the second syllable with [zeɪ] (rhyming with weigh, neigh and hooray):
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart.
One self-approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers and of loud huzzas;
And more true joy Marcellus exil’d feels
Than Cæsar with a senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies?
Tell (for you can) what is it to be wise?
’T’is but to know how little can be known;
To see all others’ faults, and feel our own.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

alleluia, applaud, applause, ardor, bark, battle cry, bawl, bellow, calenture, call, caterwaul, cheer, chorus of cheers, coil, contention, controversy, cry, cry for joy, dispute, enthusiasm, fervor, fire, furore, fuss, give a cheer, hallelujah, halloo, hear, holler, hollo, hooray, hoot, hosanna, howl, hurray, huzzah, paean, rah, rallying cry, roar, ruckus, rumpus, scream, screech, shindy, shout, shout hosanna, shriek, squall, squeal, to-do, uproar, war cry, war whoop, whoop, yammer, yap, yawl, yawp, yell, yelp, yippee, yo-ho, yowl, zeal
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