What does Booyah Mean?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

The word "booyah" could mean a number of things, depending on the circumstances and the one who proclaims it. During a intense game of one-on-one basketball, for instance, a perfectly executed slam dunk might be immediately followed by the dunker shouting it in the face of the dunkee. In those circles, the term is generally translated as in your face! or Take that! It is a taunt reserved for moments of memorable humiliation or superior physical dominance.

A slam dunk could be followed with the player shouting "booyah" to say "take that!" to the opponent.
A slam dunk could be followed with the player shouting "booyah" to say "take that!" to the opponent.

There are other circumstances in which a solo competitor might shout "Booyah!" as in the case of a perfectly thrown three point shot during a basketball game or the third strike against an opposing batter. Even people who score personal successes outside of the sports world have been known to use this exclamation after landing a lucrative business deal or other seemingly impossible task. The word seems to be the ideal shorthand to let others know about a personal success or good news.

The "Oo Rah!" chant that is shouted by U.S. Marines when they enter battle may be the origin of the term "Booyah!".
The "Oo Rah!" chant that is shouted by U.S. Marines when they enter battle may be the origin of the term "Booyah!".

Fans of financial advisor Jim Cramer's television program should recognize the exclamation Booyah as one of his most popular catchphrases. Most callers to the show begin their conversations with this word, followed by a question concerning possible stock investments. Cramer himself claims that the craze started when an investor from Louisiana called into the show to praise him for a recent piece of good advice. The caller's exuberant shout of "Boo-yah!" which he said was a popular exclamation in his state, soon caught on with other callers and Cramer himself.

The origins of the term are not exactly clear, but there are some interesting theories. Some sources say the expression started in Wisconsin, where there is also a casserole dish known as booyah. Others suggest that the exclamation is a shortened form of an African expression of joy, and its use in the United States began with African-American athletes using it as a competitive taunt during games. There is also some compelling evidence that it did indeed come from the Cajun culture of Louisiana, in the same sense as a jubilant "Ai YEE" or "YEE Haw" during musical jams.

It is also possible that the term was inspired by both the college chant "Boolah Boolah!" and the Marine shout of "Oo Rah!" Whatever the origin, an exuberant shout can feel very satisfying following a moment of personal success or great joy.

"Booyah" may be delivered as an exuberant shout.
"Booyah" may be delivered as an exuberant shout.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


In Korean it simply means "what?"


Dude right, it's a shotgun blast. A whole lot of cornball guesses, but nope.


Kind of hilarious that this whole article and all of the comments except one (now two) aren't getting it right.

Gangsta rap, sound of a shotgun.


I fist heard "Boo-ya" used by Larry Hagman in the TV series; "Orleans", when he referred to a sawed-off shotgun as a "Booya". Therefore, I thought it must be a Cajun/New Orleans expression for a shotgun, which was named for the sound one makes when fired. I guess I was partially right about the use of the sound theory, but maybe not about it being a Southern colloquialism, just an urban gang expression.


Oh my gosh - it's from Scent of a Woman, the movie with Al Pacino! Watch it for a couple of minutes. Pacino says it throughout the movie. Some things have answers.


Booyah, the stew, is of Belgian origin. It comes from the word "boullion" referring to the broth that Belgians in America used in their recipes.


@alisha-- I don't think so.

I don't think that Cramer's booyah and the stew have anything to do with one another. In the South, we call this stew burgoo. It's the same thing, a stew of meat and vegetables that has to be cooked outside for many hours.

I think some states adapted the stew and the name slowly changed from burgoo to booyah.

Booyah is just slang for "in your face." It was probably termed by African Americans as the article suggested. It's become a part of popular culture.


Considering the fact that game meat is often used in cooking booyah, perhaps this exclamation was used for motivation during hunting?

I know it's used for motivation by Marines.


Booyah stew just sounds like it has too much going on. I would never combine pork, chicken, and beef in one dish.

It may be an outrageous stew that some people find delicious, but I think it's overwhelming. However, I also find that mostly overzealous people are the ones who yell out, “Booyah!” so this may be an appropriate pairing.

I prefer not to rub my successes in anyone else's face, so I have never said, “Booyah” to anyone. I doubt that I ever do.


“Booyah” is something that my friends and I shout loudly while playing games. It's funny that we get so worked up over board games, but we feel what other people feel during physical games of basketball!

No one takes offense, because we all realize that we say it in the spirit of fun and competition. I think it's a healthy outlet for our energy.


I've never heard “booyah” spoken in a way that wasn't startling and kind of hurtled at someone. I think it's a little offensive, because it's like saying, “I succeeded, and you didn't. What do you think about that?”


In New Orleans it means something along the lines of "dufus."


Bouya, is a last name from Algerian descent.


Booyah/boo-yaa, like other expressions such as "24/7", "hype", and "chill" originated in the gangster rap culture of the mid 1980s. Booyah is an onomatopoeic word to describe the sound of a shotgun being discharged. The term was introduced to mainstream American culture in 1988 when the Samoan rap act "Boo-Yaa TRIBE" (whose members were former members of the Bloods street gang) signed a major record contract.


Booyah is also a fishing lure company. Booyah spinnerbaits are good options for catching bass, pike, and walleye. They work well in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs and hold up well to the fish with bigger teeth and those fish that strike hard. They have good spin action and they catch the fish's attention.


@ Anon83177- I never knew that is what they called hunting camp stew. I used to hunt before I moved to the city (I don't have much time to get out now that I am a student), and that sounds like the stews we used to make at hunting camp. On the last night, we would make a big stew and eat it throughout the night while we drank beer and partied. Maybe the term booyah originated from a drunken night after a long soup. Someone could have said "Booyah! Now that's a venison stew!"


Booya is not a casserole dish! It is a very thick soup usually made in very large batches in the fall, sometimes as a fund raiser or a community celebration in the Midwest.

The iron cauldrons might hold a hundred gallons or more and are heated with blow torches. The stew-like soup is cooked over night, attended by groups of men who stay hydrated with large quantities of beer. The recipes vary but usually include combinations of chicken, beef, maybe venison or other game and lots of vegetables. Served with crackers and more beer it can be delicious.

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