Ooh-rah (also spelled Urah or Hoo-rah) is a spirited cry common to United States Marines since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to the Hooah cry used in the Army or Hooyah by the Navy SEALs. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.
There are several potential sources from which the word "oorah" originated.
The 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, FMFPAC can be credited with the introduction of "Ooh-rah!" into the Marine Corps in 1953, shortly after the Korean War. Recon Marines served aboard the USS Perch (ASSP-313), a WWII-era diesel submarine retrofitted to carry Navy UDT and Recon Marines. Whenever the boat was to dive, the 1MC (PA system) would announce "DIVE! DIVE!", followed by the sound of the diving klaxon: "AARUGHA!"
In 1953 or 1954, while on a conditioning run, former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John R. Massaro, while serving as company Gunnery Sergeant of 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, simulated the "Dive" horn sound "AARUGHA!" as part of the cadence. Legend has it, he took it with him when he went to serve as an instructor at the Drill Instructor school at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. He there passed it on to the Drill Instructor students and they, in turn, passed it on to their recruits where it eventually and naturally became a part of the Recon cadence, and thereafter infiltrated Recon Marine lexicon. Over time, "AARUGHA!" morphed into the shorter, simpler "Oorah!" Today, the official Marine Corps Training Reference Manual on the history of Marine Recon is titled "AARUGHA!"
Other possible origins of "Oorah!" exist. One states that the term is derived from the Turkish language phrase "kill them all" translated as "öldürmek" or "hepsini öldürün", which was adopted as a Russian battlecry "Urrah!"
Owing to its relatively recent origins, it is less common for Marines who served in Vietnam or earlier to be familiar with "Oorah!", but most post-Vietnam Marines will have learned it throughout their careers.
A shortened version of "Oorah!" can come out as a short, sharp, monosyllabic guttural "Er!"
Another phrase similar to "Oorah" is the bark, also commonly used by Marines, due to the nickname "Devil Dogs" from the Battle of Belleau Wood in World War I.
- "Oorah" is also used by United States Navy Hospital Corpsman and Seabees because of their close association with the Marine Corps.
- "Oorah" is also used by the United States Coast Guard.
- "Oorah" is also used by the Russian Ground Forces for the same purposes. It should be noted that "Oorah" is a correct transliteration for "Ура" (as it would be rendered in Cyrillic), the Russian equivalent of "Hooray." Proper pronunciation of this word places emphasis on the second syllable, in contrast to the Marine Corps exclamation. It is possible that the Russian word was a loanword form of "hurrah"--there is commonality in both the placement of emphasis and the purpose of the words; the absence of the "h" in the Russian word would be accounted for by the non-existence of this sound in the Russian language.
- "Hoera" in Dutch, pronounced "Hoorah" also means "Hooray", other than used in a celebration also used in a sarcastic manner.
- "Oorah" is also used by Oorah Kiruv Rechokim.
- "Oorah" is also used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.