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Huntsman and Master leading the Tipperary foxhounds between draws

Tally-ho is a very old traditional cry made by the huntsman to tell others the quarry has been sighted. It may also be used with directions, including "away" and "back".

First used in fox-hunting, it was adapted in the 19th century to describe some horse-drawn vehicles and in the 20th century to advise of enemy aircraft and space junk.


Tally-ho dates from around 1772, and is probably derived from the French taïaut, a cry used to excite hounds when hunting deer.[1]

Taïaut may have originated in the second half of the 13th century by the concatenation of a two-word war-cry: taille haut. "Taille" is the cutting edge of a sword and "haut" means high or 'raised up'. So the original meaning might be something close to "Swords up!".[2]


Horse and Rider.jpg


The cry was made by the huntsman on catching sight of the fox to alert other members of the hunt.
It has been used in similar circumstances for quite different quarries:


It was used by RAF fighter pilots in the Second World War to tell their controller they were about to engage enemy aircraft.[3]


"Tally-ho" is also used by NASA astronauts in audio transmissions to signify sightings of other spacecraft, space stations, and unidentified objects.[4]


Horse-drawn vehicles[edit]

A fast stagecoach named Tally-ho plied the 125 miles between London and Birmingham from 1823. Other fast coaches began to use the same name and it became a common description of a fast coach.[5]

United States[edit]

A Tally-ho coach in New Hampshire
A Tally-ho built in Amesbury, Massachusetts

In the United States, "tally-ho" can describe a large coach or a light passenger vehicle without roof or sides used for sight-seeing.[6]


  1. ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionary - Tallyho". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Referenced May 19, 2008.
  2. ^ "Taïaut", Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales ‹See Tfd›(in French)
  3. ^ https://www.historyextra.com/period/second-world-war/history-royal-air-force-raf-history-facts-ww2-world-war-two-when-begin-founded/
  4. ^ Harwood, William (2002-06-07). "Endeavour arrives at the International Space Station". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
  5. ^ Tally-ho, noun, 2a. Oxford English Dictionary online accessed 31 March 2018
  6. ^ Tally-ho, noun, 2b. Oxford English Dictionary online accessed 31 March 2018