verb (used without object)
verb (used with object)
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Origin of holler1
Words nearby holler
Definition for holler (2 of 2)
noun South Midland and Southern U.S.
Origin of holler2
BEHIND THE WORD
What else does holler mean?
To holler is “to shout,” extended to “say hello” or “hit on” in Black English.
In Appalachian English, a holler refers to a “hollow,” or mountain valley.
Where does holler come from?
The verb holler is recorded in the late 17th century for “yell,” probably as a variant of words like hollo and hello—all attention-getting sounds. Early on, holler could also mean “complain,” as in Quit yer hollerin’!
By the 19th century in the U.S., slaves were performing hollers, more specifically field hollers, a type of call-and-response work song. With roots in West African music and culture, these hollers helped lay the foundation of American popular music as we know it: blues, jazz, rock and roll, all the way up to hip-hop.
These hollers may have some deep influence on the contemporary word holler (often pronounced holla) in Black and Southern English, a term for “hitting someone up” or “getting in touch.” This holler comes to prominence with the rise of hip-hop in the 1990s, when its sense expanding to “hitting on someone.”
In 1999, legendary female hip-hop trio TLC released their hit “No Scrubs,” which notably featured a catcalling holler: “Hangin’ out the passenger’s side of your best friend’s ride / trying to holla at me.”
Holler also made a pop-culture resurgence in 2004 with Gwen Stefani’s hit “Hollaback Girl.” The song is a diss track against rocker Courtney Love, who dismissed Stefani as a “cheerleader.” Stefani answered with her hook “‘Cause I ain’t no hollaback girl”—that she isn’t like some cheerleader obediently hollering back at her squad leader’s call.
Holler further spread in the 2000s as a general expression of excitement for just about anything, not just girls. For instance, one could say “Let me holler at that ice cream,” meaning “I want to get at that ice cream.” Holler! and Holla! are also issued as interjections showing enthusiasm.
In November 2015, an app called Hollar launched. It describes itself as a mobile dollar store, featuring cheap items with free shipping. The name suggests a blend of the hit-me-up holler and dollar.
And, then there’s Appalachian English, where a holler is a term for a valley between two mountains, based on the word hollow and evidenced since the 19th century. Folk etymologies like to claim, though, that the term comes from people hollering to each other over the mountains to communicate.
How is holler used in real life?
Outside of the Smoky Mountains and its general use for “shout,” holler is associated with Black and Southern English (the two share many features) as an informal way to greet, reach out to or contact someone, or acknowledge something. It’s widely seen in hip-hop, memorably featured in 2Pac’s 1993 “Holler If Ya Hear Me,” about the problems Black men faced in the hood.
Holler is also issued as an exclamation of joy, agreement, or excitement, such as winning a game or going to a party. This holler, however, does get criticized as a white appropriation of Black culture.
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for holler
These voters told me that they’d watched opioids ravage their blue-collar communities, hills, hollers, and farm fields, while pharmaceutical companies rubbed elbows with regulators and laughed on their way to the shareholders’ meeting.Political cynicism has given way to love in Christian America|jakemeth|October 28, 2020|Fortune
“The incoming Republican majority in the Senate was built on opposition to executive amnesty,” said Holler.
As advertised, Holler is not autobiographical in the same way that the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein are not autobiographical.
Interestingly, what became Holler If Ya Hear Me originally went to Wilson to write before it passed to Kreidler.
And Holler If Ya Hear Me boasts some very fun redecorated Tupac tunes.The Tupac Musical Hits Broadway: Kenny Leon’s ‘Holler If Ya Hear Me’ Is Crazy, Silly Fun|Marlow Stern|June 19, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The mainstream Tupac musical Holler If Ya Hear Me is, in some ways, an act of defiance for the poet-actor-musician Saul Williams.Broadway’s Rebel, Tellin’ You to Hear It: A Portrait of Saul Williams|Alex Suskind|June 17, 2014|DAILY BEAST
We kin git the papers to start a holler and have folks demandin' action of their representatives, and sich like.Scattergood Baines|Clarence Budington Kelland
Father-in-law would holler if he heard the car, but Bud did not intend that father-in-law should hear it.Cabin Fever|B. M. Bower
There's mighty strange things stirrin' on this here mountain, an' in the Holler down yonder.
W'en he git off little ways, he up 'n holler back ter Brer Fox dat he got a riddle he want 'im ter read.Nights With Uncle Remus|Joel Chandler Harris
There's them that 'lows there's things in this here Holler t' be afeared of, an' I reckon hit's so.