"act of exulting, great gladness, triumphant delight," late 14c., exultacioun, from Old French exultacion "joyousness, exultation" and directly from Latin exultationem/exsultationem "a leaping for joy, exultation," noun of action from past-participle stem of exultare/exsultare (see exult). The notion is of leaping or dancing for joy. An Old English word for it was heahbliss "high bliss."
interjection of pleasure, exultation, etc., by 1902; perhaps an extension and modification of hip (interj.).
"expressing exultation, rejoicing exceedingly or triumphantly," 1650s, from Latin exultantem/exsultantem (nominative exultans/exsultans) "boastful, vainglorious," present participle of exultare/exsultare (see exult). Related: Exultantly.
"feelings and expressions of joy, exultation, or gladness," late 14c., rejoising, verbal noun from rejoice (v.). Related: Rejoicingly. Rejoicement (1560s) seems not to have caught on.
fem. proper name, literally "gladness," from Latin laetitia "joy, exultation, rejoicing, gladness, pleasure, delight," from laetus "glad, happy; flourishing, rich," a word of unknown origin. On the assumption that "fat, rich" is the older meaning, this word has been connected to lardus "bacon" and largus "generous," but de Vaan finds this "a very artificial reconstruction." In 17c. English had a verb letificate "make joyful" (1620s), and Middle English had letification "action of rejoicing" (late 15c.).
1680s, apparently an alteration of huzza; it is similar to shouts recorded in German, Danish, and Swedish; perhaps it was picked up by the English soldiery during the Thirty Years' War. Hurra was said to be the battle-cry of Prussian soldiers during the War of Liberation (1812-13), "and has since been a favourite cry of soldiers and sailors, and of exultation" [OED]. Hooray is its popular form and is almost as old. Also hurray (1780); hurroo (1824); hoorah (1798). As a verb from 1798. American English hurra's nest "state of confusion" is from 1829.
also sometimes hubba-hubba-hubba, a U.S. slang cry of excitement or enthusiasm, noted in early 1946 as a vogue phrase among teenagers and "one of the most widely used expressions emerging from the war" [The Y News, March 21, 1946]. It served as "a refined wolf call, or merely to express approval, approbation, or exultation" [Twin Falls, Idaho, Times News, May 5, 1946, quoting Hartford Courant].
Contemporary sources traced it variously to the U.S. Army Air Forces and the phrase sometimes is said to be from an Asian language. Another suggested origin is the drill instructor's repeated hup! to keep his soldiers marching in rhythm. Hubba and hubba-hubba appear in an armed forces publication from 1944 over photographs of soldiers marching or drilling. A column in the official service journal "Air Force" for September 1943 mentions "the old cadet war-cry, 'Habba Habba.' "
Hubba! also is noted by 1905 as a call used at sea by Cornish fishermen when sighting a school of pilchard, and haba-haba is attested as circus term for a sort of side-man for an artist working a crowd (1924). Haba Haba also figures in a 1925 poem-chorus of suggestive nonsense phrases.