rebel yell and yeehaw

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 23 20:47:40 UTC 2012

I was struck by the failure of all but two or three earwitnesses to
even attempt to spell out their versions of "the" rebel yell.

That's two or three out of scores and scores of references.

It's also typical nineteenth-century vagueness.

It's also striking, though less so, that relatively few writers even
bothered to characterize the yell in any particular way. Words like
hoot, howl, yowl, rasp, shriek, halloo, etc., occur only infrequently
- even as the writers attempt to differentiate the yell from the
"Yankee hurrah."

An interesting point about "Yeehaw/hah!" is that the stylized scream
it represents has largely displaced, in current use, earlier stylized
expressions of enthusiasm like "Wahoo!" "Yahoo!" and, of course,

Also that it is retrofitted, sometimes passionately, as by James's
correspondent, to the Civil War.

I wonder what Civil War re-enactors yell.


On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 10:48 PM, James Harbeck <jharbeck at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       James Harbeck <jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA>
> Subject:      Re: rebel yell and yeehaw
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for all that research and insight! The trail of yee-haw looks
> just a little messier now than it did before... but thanks to this
> Jim Redman dude, I've had Billy Idol running through my head for the
> last couple of days
> (
> James Harbeck.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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