The Meaning and Mysterious Origin of OO-rah

It’s a cry whose origin is as mysterious as its utterance is inspiring. It is a shout that is ingrained in the minds of Marines starting in boot camp. Its meaning and origins are debated both by people who have and have not served in the Corps. In fact, people who have not served associate this cry with the Marines every bit as much as they do the term Semper fidelis. The word is “OO-RAH!” and some sources say that its meaning is as varied as to mean “I am a Marine” or “I love being a Marine” to “whatever I do I will do in a manner befitting a Marine.”

Origin

But what about the origin of the word? That is widely disputed too. According to leatherneck.com, the first use of “OO-RAH!” by the Marines was after the Korean War (1953). Legend has it that in this context the word “AHUGA!” was morphed into the shorter “OO-RAH!” While this history is generally accepted by those of us who have or are serving in the Marine Corps, some claim that its origins can be traced to sources as varied as Middle High German (1580-1590) to the Ottoman Turkish phrase “vur ha” which translated means “strike” or “forward.” Others claim that the origin of the word dates back to the Ancient Hun or Mongolian Empire word for “hurray.” Whatever its origin, Marines automatically know that the cry is a source of pride and inspiration. So too are our USMC hats and our Marine Corps products online. They are embossed with symbols and phrases which communicate to others the pride you feel in an organization that has been the key to American independence since the Marines were formed in 1775.

All of the mystery around the word adds to the rich history of the Corps. It is one of the many things that makes those of us who have served proud of that service as even civilians are inspired by this call to action and acknowledgment of pride. Show your pride by wearing some of our clothing including hats, buttons, outerwear, jewelry, etc.