Yee-ha(w) / "Rebel yell"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Dec 4 23:22:29 UTC 2006

Such transcriptions are unreliable, as we know.

  I'll rent _Red River_ if Ben will do the same for _Dr. Strangelove_.

  A friend from SW Arkansas more or less scoffs at the idea that "Yee-ha(w)" is Southern or very old.  He thinks of it as "more Western," though isn't sure why.  He recalls grown men screaming something like "EEEEEEEEHEEEEEEEEE !" while watching football on TV in the early '60s, but that's the best he can do.


Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Benjamin Zimmer
Subject: Re: Yee-ha(w) / "Rebel yell"

On 12/4/06, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> My formerly reliable memory tells me that the horse-opera use of "yeeha(w)"
> was something like "giddyup," but applicable to bovine situationsas well. That
> might explain the "yeeha(w)" in _Red River_, assuming it's really in the scene
> in question.
> A cattle-managing "yeeha(w)" is of interest too. But what I'm thinking of,
> specifically, is the "yeeha(w)" that means "My visceral reaction to this situation
> is exceedingly positive !" Cattle and other quadrupeds are not usually present
> when "yeeha(w)" is currently exclaimed, though they are never ruled out.
> Can anyone adduce a cinematic, musical, literary, or real-world yeeha(w)" in
> the current sense earlier than 1975 ?

I thought I remembered Slim Pickens as Major T.J. "King" Kong shouting
"Yeehaw!" in the climactic bombing scene of _Dr. Strangelove_ (1964),
but according to this site it was actually "Yahoo!"

--Ben Zimmer

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