Oorah (Marines)

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Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.

Origins[edit]

There are several potential sources from which the word "oorah" originated.

  • The term may have come from Middle High German of 1580-90 "hurren" meaning "to move fast", which was formed into "hurra" , and from which the English "hurry" comes from.
  • The term may have come from warriors of Ancient Hun or of Mongolian Empire "hurray" meaning "to move attack" or “appeal for goodness”, which was formed into "(h)urra" in Russian with same meaning, and from which the Mongolia "Uria" (callings or slogans) comes from. “Hurray and Uria” words are used today in Mongolia from the ancient soldiers.
  • The term may be a variation of 18th century sailors exlamation "huzzah", traditionally said during salutes.
  • In World War II injured US Marines were treated in northern Australia. The term 'oorah' is said to be local slang for 'farewell' or 'until then',[1] although it is likely to be a mishearing of the more common 'ooroo'.[2]
  • The term may have been derived from the Ottoman Turkish phrase "vur ha" translated as "strike" or the Mongolian word "urakh" meaning "forward." It was used as a battle cry of the Ottoman Empire army and adapted as a Russian battle cry "ura".[4]
  • Jack Weatherford asserts that it comes from the Mongolian Hurree, used by Mongol armies and spread throughout the world during the Mongol Empire of the 13th century,[2] but he does not appear to present any supporting evidence. Weatherford says that in Mongolian Hurree is a sacred praise much like amen or hallelujah.
  • According to Jean Paul Roux the word "Hurrah" comes from Old Turkic, in use until medieval times. In his book, History of Turks he states:

...For example, while attacking to their enemies, they (Turks) used to shout "Ur Ah!" which means "Come on, hit!" (In modern Turkish 'Vur Hadi!') Then this exclamation turned into "Hurrah!" in [the] West... The difference represents diachronic change in the phonology and verbal usage in Turkish. The verb for "to hit" or "to strike" was urmak, which became vurmak in Modern Turkish. Moreover, a former subjunctive imperative verbal ending of e/a is not productive in Modern Turkish. Therefore, "ura," meaning "may it hit," which would have changed phonetically to "vura" in Modern Turkish, is expressed with "vursun."


Culture[edit]

Owing to its relatively recent adoption by British and American military culture, it is less common for U.S. Marines who served in the Vietnam War or earlier to be familiar with "Oorah!", but most post-Vietnam War U.S. Marines and Vietnam War U.S. Marines who continued to serve after the war will have learned it throughout their careers.[citation needed]

A couple of shortened versions of "Oorah!" can come out as a short, sharp, monosyllabic guttural "Er!" or "Rah!"

Another phrase similar to "Oorah" is the bark, also commonly used by Marines, due to the nickname "Devil Dogs" from the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I.[citation needed]

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]