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A character in D.H. Lawrence's novel Women in Love (published 1920) calls out, "Shu-hu!" to hail her sister in a crowded place.

This must be the same as "yoo hoo". What is the source of this exclamation?

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It's an Americanism, first used in 1924. –  American Luke Aug 21 '12 at 19:32
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@Luke: First documented, please! –  StoneyB Aug 21 '12 at 23:11

3 Answers 3

The Oxford English Dictionary dates yoo-hoo to 1924, as noted by the American Dialect Society, and compares it to yo-ho, originally a nautical phrase also sometimes used in yo-heave-ho.

Their first documented use of yo-ho is from 1769 in William Falconer's An universal dictionary of the marine:

Hola-ho, a cry which answers to yoe-hoe.

Yo-ho derives from two interjections. Yo: an exclamation of incitement or a warning, first documented around 1420. And ho: "an exclamation expressing, according to intonation, surprise, admiration, exultation (often ironical), triumph, taunting" from before 1400, and also "a sailor's cry in heaving or hauling".

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I always wondered about Swift’s yahoos. –  tchrist Jan 10 '13 at 12:29

It's doubtful there is a single documented "source". If it was already part of American vernacular, it may have shown up in several publications almost simultaneously. Pinpointing the first use in print does not really tell us the "source" because the publication did not coin the exclamation.

The American Dialect Society's Dialect Notes, Volume 5 in 1927 records that it is used to call attention (p280). In 1919, William La Vare's Up the Mazaruni for Diamonds uses it for that purpose. The earliest I could find was from c. 1916 in The Vassar miscellany monthly.

The obscurity of these texts appears to indicate that there was no publication responsible for disseminating the exclamation's use. Someone used the expression at some point (perhaps a variation of "yo-ho" or "you-who" or any other of the myriad plausible, but unsubstantiated, explanations) and it caught on.

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Be wary of Google's dates, especially with snippets. Often their metadata is wrong and they run several editions together. The OED lists Dialect Notes volume 5 as their first quotation, but say 1924 not 1918. However, here's confirmation of La Vare 1919. –  Hugo Aug 22 '12 at 20:29
    
@Hugo Thanks for the heads-up. I'll definitely keep an eye out. I fixed the Dialect date based on its published date in the book. –  Zairja Aug 23 '12 at 1:18
    
Zairja, I didn't mean "source" in the sense of a source text or document. I was wondering about the phrase's origins in general and in any form. –  Tess Sep 1 '12 at 23:57
    
@Tess In that case I'd defer to Hugo's answer. If you go back far enough, it may stem from a natural expression, but this claim is unsupported. –  Zairja Sep 2 '12 at 12:59

As Luke says, from Eytmonline:

yoo-hoo
exclamation to call attention, 1924.

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@Tess as you said in your OP, the quote is 'shu-hu'. You then insist that it is the same as 'yoo-hoo'. –  cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Sep 1 '12 at 23:47
    
An Americanism documented in 1924? Interesting. The novel was published in 1920 and the author and characters are English. By the way, @cornbread ninja, I didn't mean to insist anything. Instead of saying "this must be..." I should have said "surely this must be..." as that's how I was thinking about it. I was guessing, not insisting. –  Tess Jun 1 '13 at 9:49

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