CHEERING, the uttering or making of sounds encouraging, stimulating or exciting to action, indicating approval of acclaiming or welcoming persons, announcements of events and the like. The word "cheer" meant originally face, countenance, expression, and came through the O. Fr. into Mid. Eng. in the 13th century from the Low Lat. cara, head; this is generally referred to the Gr. . Cara is used by the 6th-century poet Flavius Cresconius Corippus, "Postquam venere verendam Caesaris ante caram" (In Laudem Justini Minoris). "Cheer" was at first qualified with epithets, both of joy and gladness and of sorrow; compare "She thanked Dyomede for alle ... his gode chere" (Chaucer, Troylus) with "If they sing ... 'tis with so dull a cheere" (Shakespeare, Sonnets, xcvii.). An early transference in meaning was to hospitality or entertainment, and hence to food and drink, "good cheer." The sense of a shout of encouragement or applause is a late use. Defoe (Captain Singleton) speaks of it as a sailor's word, and the meaning does not appear in Johnson. Of the different words or rather sounds that are used in cheering, "hurrah," though now generally looked on as the typical British form of cheer, is found in various forms in German, Scandinavian, Russian (urá), French (houra). It is probably onomatopoeic in origin; some connect it with such words as "hurry," "whirl"; the meaning would then be "haste," to encourage speed or onset in battle. The English "hurrah" was preceded by "huzza," stated to be a sailor's word, and generally connected with "heeze," to hoist, probably being one of the cries that sailors use when hauling or hoisting. The German hoch, seen in full in hoch lebe der Kaiser, etc., the French vive, Italian and Spanish viva, evviva, are cries rather of acclamation than encouragement. The Japanese shout banzai became familiar during the Russo-Japanese War. In reports of parliamentary and other debates the insertion of "cheers" at any point in a speech indicates that approval was shown by members of the House by emphatic utterances of "hear hear." Cheering may be tumultuous, or it may be conducted rhythmically by prearrangement, as in the case of the "Hip-hip-hip" by way of introduction to a simultaneous "hurrah."
Rhythmical cheering has been developed to its greatest extent in America in the college yells, which may be regarded as a development of the primitive war-cry; this custom has no real analogue at English schools and universities, but the New Zealand football team in 1907 familiarized English crowds at their matches with a similar sort of war-cry adopted from the Maoris. In American schools and colleges there is usually one cheer for the institution as a whole and others for the different classes. The oldest and simplest are those of the New England colleges. The original yells of Harvard and Yale are identical in form, being composed of rah (abbreviation of hurrah) nine times repeated, shouted in unison with the name of the university at the end. The Yale cheer is given faster than that of Harvard. Many institutions have several different yells, a favourite variation being the name of the college shouted nine times in a slow and prolonged manner. The best known of these variants is the Yale cheer, partly taken from the Frogs of Aristophanes.
College yells are used particularly at athletic contests. In any large college there are several leaders, chosen by the students, who stand in front and call for the different songs and cheers, directing with their arms in the fashion of an orchestral conductor. This cheering and singing form one of the distinctive features of inter-collegiate and scholastic athletic contests in America.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)