Hooray - hurrah - huzza - huzzay - hooraw

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The different spellings of the interjection hurrah (now the spelling that AWE would recommend in formal writing) have no particular priority - it does not matter how you spell them. All the spellings can also be used as verbs (meaning 'to shout the interjection') or nouns (an example of the interjection), again with little to distinguish between them. As the general origin is onomatopoeic, writers may well choose a particular spelling to reflect the sound that they are describing.

    • OED's explanation (s.v. huzza, int. and n.) is "apparently a mere exclamation, the first syllable being a preparation for, and a means of securing simultaneous utterance of the final /ɑː/". For other speakers, the final syllable is often realized as '-ay', /eɪ/: if you want to represent this sound, spell the final syllable '-ay'. OED adds a note on usage, which may reflect a certain academic aloofness or even snobbery: "In English the form hurrah is literary and dignified; hooray is usual in popular acclamation." On-line Merriam-Webster gives hurrah as the preferred American spelling, listing 'hooray' and 'hoorah' as acceptable variants.
  • The earliest version recorded in OED is only now to be seen in archaic texts: huzza, variously written with a final '-h' or '-y', in a quotation from 1573, or, as verb, from 1683. It was pronounced with a final vowel like that in 'ah', 'are' and 'car' (IPA: /ɑː/) - or like that in 'say' and 'day' (/eɪ/. It was seen as a sailors' cry, which may or may not be etymologically linked to an obsolete cry of 'hissa!' ('hoist!'), with a related verb 'to heeze', also obsolete.
  • In the eighteenth century, this spelling, and pronunciation, began to be replaced by hurrah, normally written nowadays with a final '-h'. This new sound was "possibly influenced by some foreign shouts" (OED. It was used by Prussian as well as British infantry, for example, who fought together during the Napoleonic Wars, sometimes on the same side, sometimes not.
    • OED records variant spellings hurra in the 16th century and later, hurrea and whurra in the 17th century, and hooray, hooroar and hourra from the eighteenth.
  • At the end of the nineteenth century, hooray appears, originally in Australia and New Zealand, where the form hurroo also appears, possibly influenced by the English rendering of various aboriginal languages.
    • Hip hip Hurrah is now the conventional way of managing a group cheer, as for example by a military unit. The leader calls for "Three cheers", then "Hip hip", when the whole group shouts "Hurrah" together. This is repeated two further times - in the Royal Navy, the tradition of expressing appreciation is to call for "Three cheers and a tiger", which allows a fourth and most vigorous cheer.
      • In the eighteenth century, a "hip" appears to have been a cheer in its own right. By the nineteenth century, the usual introduction was "hip, hip, hip" (as when W. Hone wrote, in 1827, "To toss off the glass, and huzza after the 'hip! hip! hip!' of the toast giver" (Every-day Book, cited OED).
    • Hooray Henry is a term of abuse for a certain type of confident, brash young male from the classes that like to think of themselves as 'upper' (or 'upper middle'). They tend to be noisy, with RP accents derived from the public schools that they traditionally attend. They follow certain professions traditionally occupied by members of their families, in the army, stockbroking, land management and art-dealing, etc; and sometimes living off inherited wealth. The female equivalent is the Sloane Ranger (after Sloane Square in London, a fashionable - and expensive - shopping area).