Marquette Wire

What does it mean to ring out ahoya?

Dennis Tracy

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“Ring out ahoya” is a part of our school’s identity. We sing it during basketball games and all other sporting events. It has been established as a unique part of our campus’s anthem, but what does it mean?

“(I think it means) to get hyped and excited for everything going on during the game,” said Connor York, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Another student, Patrick Reed, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said that ring out ahoya means “the whole student body at Marquette games just stomping their feet and yelling a cheer as one.”

It is a phrase that has a community-empowering sense to it, but where did it all come from, and why?

Michelle Sweetser, a university archivist, shared some information on the history and meaning of “ring out ahoya.”

“The song has been around for quite some time, and (people) have spent a bit of time guessing or trying to provide an explanation for what it means,” Sweetser said.

There are various explanations to its history as to how the meaning developed.

In 1911, a song came out with the phrase “ring out ahoya,” with ahoya broken up into a-hoya.  It was eventually lumped together to get the spelling that we use today. In 1946, an article came out in the Tribune that said “ring out ahoya” meant a victory chant, and that there was no other meaning behind it.

“Ring out ahoya” was just a catchphrase the students and staff would say during games to pump up their teams and themselves in showing school spirit. The song couldn’t even be played over the radio in the 1940s due to copyright restrictions.

Another explanation behind the phrase is that it comes from the Greek word hoxa saxa, which means “what rocks.” “What rocks” is a phase used at Georgetown University, created when sailors who were passing through the town on the Potomac River used it. The phrase meant to bring out the strong team members and became a part of Georgetown University’s school spirit song. At Georgetown University, the ahoya is spelled without the a, leaving just hoya.

Sweetser said “ring out ahoya” was selected from a number of contests in the 1900s, ’20s, and ’30s when students could vote for a school spirit song from a number of suggestions. The song was originally for Holy Cross but became a part of Marquette as something that stuck with its faculty and students to chant at games.

“I think of it as being a word that connotes strength through greetings and something that you can get behind,” Sweetser said.

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