Yee-ha(w) / "Rebel yell"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Dec 4 18:58:44 UTC 2006

In one of his bits, Richard Pryor reproduced the yell as "Yee-haw!"
explaining that, when he heard it, he knew that it was time to leave.

However, when I was in the Army, Edgar J. Mackey, Jr., from somewhere
'nother in North Carolina, had a different version. Unfortunately,
Eg-guh gave the yell only when he was drunk and, even then, he had to
be asked. And, if Eg-guh was drunk, so was everyone else. Hence, I
can't recall what his yell sounded like, except that it was quite loud
and wasn't "yee-ha(w)." In addition, I had earlier read an article
somewhere 'nother that debunked the Rebel Yell, claiming that it was
folklore and there was not and never had been any such thing as a
Rebel Yell. I believed this article, so, even if I had been sober, I
wouldn't have paid no 'taynchun to Eg-guh's rendition of the supposed

As for "yee-ha(w)," this was heard in a million horse operas, during
my childhood, with no one defining it as having anything to do with
the War of Northern Aggression.

On 12/4/06, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Yee-ha(w) / "Rebel yell"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I'd never thought about it before, but are we to suppose that Swift's yahoos are so called because they go around ejaculating "YA-HOO!"?  (Those creatures WERE, after all, rebels of a sort.)
> --Charlie
> _____________________________________
> ---- Original message ----
> >Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2006 06:32:01 -0800
> >From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
> >Subject: Yee-ha(w) / "Rebel yell"
> >
> >
> >It's the 21st C., so why be surprised, as I was, at the appearance of exclamatory "Yee-ha!" in Australia: . Also:
> >
> >  2001 Matthew Reilly _Area 7_ (Rpt. N.Y.: St. Martin's, 2002) 175: Beside her, Elvis was yelling, "Yee-ha!" as he rained hell on the 7th Squadron men with the minigun.
> >
> >  "Yee-ha!" / ji:::: ' ha:::: / is frequently known as "the rebel yell," but 19th C. descriptions of that yell (or those yells), analyzed by Allen Walker Read in _AS_ long ago show that its dominant effect was not "Yee-ha!"
> >
> >  I grew up in a bluebelly ethos where "whoopee" and "yahoo" and "wahoo" were familiar from movie westerns and the phrase "rebel yell" was used only in history books.
> >
> >  I first became conscious of "Yee-ha !" in 1974 or ' 75.  Since then it has been yelled everywhere. But when did this popularity begin.  There's a "famous 'Yeehaw!' scene," it sez here, in _Red River_ (1948), but I can't recall whether the yell (prefaced by 'Take 'em to Missouri, Matt!") sounded like "Yeehaw!" or something else.
> >
> >  A West Indian "yee ha" from 1877 is readily findable through Google Books,  but it seems like nonsense syllables rather than any kind of yell.
> >
> >  Phonetically it's related to "hee-haw," but there all similarity ends.
> >
> >  Thoughts?  Early cites ?  Any connection to Yeehaw Junction, Florida?  (Under "yeehaw," OED's earliest is 1977, despite appearances.)
> >
> >  JL
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Sam Clemens

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list