Hip, hip, hallelujah! No, that’s not right. But how do you spell the last word of this cheer of excitement?
Hooray! Hurray! Huzzah! Yep, these are all versions of the same exclamation of joy, encouragement, or approval that sometimes just has to be vocalized.
The Oxford English Dictionary prefers “hooray,” noting it’s a version of “hurrah.” Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com agree. The Cambridge Dictionary prefers “hurray,” noting “hooray” is a variant in the U.S. But what about you? What does your gut say?
“Hurray” vs. “hooray” is an oddly tricky question.
Here’s the answer:
While both “hurray” and “hooray” are considered correct spellings, “hooray” (H-O-O-R-A-Y) is the most commonly used.
If you delve into the history of these words, it’s been quite the battle. “Hurray” took the early lead in the 1680s; “hurrah” took over around 1700; “hooray” saw its first surge of popularity around 1720, with “hurrah” still battling close behind. While “hurrah” has a surprising lead in written English over time, when we return to the “hurray” vs. “hooray” battle (both of which are pronounced the same), “hooray” has been more commonly used (and has been the accepted standard by most sources) since the 1870s.
Man, I love a great ngram graph. Thanks, Google.
Writing Tip 380.2 – In Australian and New Zealand, “hooray” is also used as a form of goodbye.
So which do you use? And how do you use it?
Personally, I’m all about bringing back “huzzah”—which might just go back to a favorite spelling error of “definitely” written as “defiantly” (insert a nostalgic sigh; it’s one of my first writing tips).
But in the meantime, hip, hip, hooray! You’ve finally got your answer.
Happy writing, folks.
Join 1,000+ subscribers and sign up for my writing and editing email newsletter for more tips like this.