Etymology
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hubba-hubba (interj.)

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.

updated on October 28, 2022

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