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Aggie Glossary: On 'Gig 'em,' 'howdy,' 'hump it' and 'whoop'

Aggie Glossary: On 'Gig 'em,' 'howdy,' 'hump it' and 'whoop'

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Academic Plaza: The area that includes the Academic Building, the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross and the Century Tree. Silver Taps, the ceremony that honors Aggies who have died, occurs there every second Tuesday of the month during the academic year.

Aggie Code of Honor small

Aggie Code of Honor: "Aggies do not lie, cheat or steal, nor do they tolerate those who do," according to the Texas A&M code of conduct.

AggieCon: The annual convention sponsored by student organization Cepheid Variable encompasses science fiction, fantasy and horror in literature, art, film and gaming. The event has been held since 1969. The convention was held in cooperation with Cushing Memorial Library in 2013 with George R.R. Martin as the special guest.

Aggies: The term refers to current and former students of Texas A&M. It's in reference to agriculture, which was in the institution's original name. The term did not come into use until after World War I.

Aggie Ring: Symbol of the Aggie network that dates back to the beginning of the school. The ring is traditionally ordered in gold, and the design has remained mostly unchanged for the past 100 years.

Aggie War Hymn: The Aggie fight song was written by J.V. "Pinky" Wilson, class of 1920. He wrote the second verse his senior year and the first verse almost 20 years later. Today, students sing the second verse twice at sporting events. NASA flight director Gerry Griffin, class of 1956, used the song to wake up astronauts in space from 1982 to 1986.

Arches: The series of 12 arches form the entryway to the Quad, where members of the Corps of Cadets live. The 12 arches symbolize the 12th Man. Yell Leaders have Yell Practice there the night before away games.

Association of Former Students: The alumni association originated in 1879 as the Association of Ex-Cadets. The association promotes the interests of A&M and fosters a relationship between current and former students.


Bad bull: Actions that go against the Aggie spirit and traditions.

Batt: The Battalion, commonly referred to as The Batt, is the student newspaper established in 1893.

Beat the Hell: An Aggie yell. The "pass back" is an Aggie's left arm clapping the right bicep, with the right arm pulling up, fist clenched. Aggies yell, "Beat the hell outta [whatever athletic team A&M is playing]."


Bevo, circa 1917

Bevo: The longhorn is the mascot for the University of Texas, but the steer was not named until six Aggies stole him in February 1917. UT officials wanted to brand the steer with the score from the 1916 A&M-UT football game that the Longhorns won, 21-7. A&M students heard of the plan and stole the mascot, according to university archives. Before returning him, they took him to Waco and branded his side with the score from the 1915 rivalry game, which A&M won, 13-0. To save face, UT students allegedly modified the "13-0," to look like "BEVO," which remains the name of the mascot. (UT's website disputes the claim and says its students did not rebrand the steer's hide). In 1920, Bevo was cooked up and served at a barbecue with A&M officials as guests. A&M students would steal Bevo again in 1963. A UT student returned the favor in 1993 and stole 4-month-old Reveille VI from the mascot corporal's Dallas home during December winter break.

Big Event: The community outreach event started in 1982. Students tackle service projects such as painting and yard work to help residents in Bryan-College Station. The event is "the largest one-day, student-run service project in the nation," according to its website. More than 17,500 volunteers participated in the 2013 Big Event.

Bonfire: The tradition began in 1909 and lasted 90 years. Students cut and stacked logs to be lit in preparation of the annual football game with the University of Texas. Bonfire symbolized the Aggies' "burning desire" to beat their rivals. Tragedy struck Nov. 18, 1999, when the stack collapsed at 2:42 a.m. Twelve Aggies were killed and 27 were injured. A memorial now stands where the tradition had been held.

Boot Line: Seniors line up at the south end of Kyle Field to welcome the team back to the game after halftime.

Bottlecap Alley: The alley on Northgate between the Dry Bean and the Dixie Chicken, which is full of bottle caps.

Bus driver: Fans yell "Sit down, bus driver" when the coach of the opposing team is holding up the game by complaining to the officials.


Century Singers: The coed concert choir was established in 1971. The group has performed at Carnegie Hall and toured Europe.

Century Tree1

Century Tree

Century Tree: The oak tree dates back to around 1900. Many of its sprawling branches now rest on the ground. It is the site of wedding proposals, engagements and bridal photos. The Texas Forest Service designated it to the ranks of "Famous Tree of Texas" in 2011.

Chicken: Refers to the Dixie Chicken bar on Northgate. The Chicken, established in 1974, is the oldest bar on Northgate. The ring-dunking tradition began there in the 1970s.

Chig-gar-roo-gar-rem: The phrase's earliest appearance is in a 1906 yell book. The general consensus among alumni is that it is meant to replicate a train going over tracks, or a drum roll on a snare drum. But, according to David Chapman, former archivist of Cushing Memorial Library: "There is, as far as I know, no definitive answer" to what the phrase is mimicking. The phrase is used in the Aggie War Hymn, right before Aggies "saw varsity's horns off."

Code Maroon: Campus emergency notification system using multiple channels, including texts, e-mail, radio and television alerts.

Commons: A residential hall area where four halls (Aston, Dunn, Krueger and Mosher) are located. It includes dining and recreational areas.

Corps of Cadets: The ROTC program is the only organization on campus that is as old as the university itself. More than half of its members are commissioned as officers in the United States Armed Forces. The Corps commissions more trained officers than any other any other school in the country, other than service academies, according to its website. Corps membership reached its highest point since 1970 with more than 2,450 members in the fall of 2013. There are 42 units that live in the Corps Quad dormitory area. Cadets have the opportunity to join 10 special units within the Corps. The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band is a part of the Corps.

Corps Trip: The entire Corps travels to an out-of-town football game at least once a year.


Echo Taps: A special ceremony in the Corps of Cadets is held when a current cadet dies, or in times of national tragedy. Non-cadets are invited to attend. The flags on the Quad, where the cadets live, are raised to half-staff the morning of the ceremony. At 10:30 p.m., cadets fall out and line up along the length of the Quad and stand at attention. One bugler plays Taps at one end of the Quad and continues as a second bugler "echoes" the phrases at the opposite end. The cadets then return to their dorms in silence. Set dates for Echo Taps are Sept. 11 in memory of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks; Nov. 18 for A&M's Bonfire collapse; and Jan. 28 for the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster in 1986. Corps outfit Squadron 17 Challenger is named for the shuttle and its crew.

Elephant Walk: Seniors wander with linked arms around campus the week before the last football game, like an elephant who is about to die. The tradition began in 1926.


Fightin' Texas Aggie Band: The band is nationally known for its military style and elaborate and precise formations during the halftime performances at A&M football games.

Final Review: The Corps of Cadets gather at Simpson Drill Field for spring inspection by military officers, university administration and visiting dignitaries. Graduating seniors participate in their last review and pass on command duties to the next officers.

First Yell: The Yell Leaders started the entertainment event in 1999, which occurs before Midnight Yell the weekend of the first home game or conference game. The event has featured performances by comedians including Bill Cosby, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy, Martin Short and Brian Regan. In 2012, former students Robert Earl Keen, Rick Trevino and Granger Smith performed a concert at Kyle Field. Lyle Lovett and Keen  joined Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell at the 2013 First Yell on Sept. 13, the night before A&M's first conference game against Alabama.

Fish Camp: Orientation camp for incoming freshman where they learn about A&M traditions and what it means to be an Aggie.

Fish Pond: Located across the street from All Faith's Chapel and dedicated in memory of students who died fighting in World War II. Yell leaders are dunked there after home football games.

F.O.W.: Freshman Orientation Week for the Corps, which occurs the week before classes start.

Frog: Cadet who joins the Corps after the normal cycle of training, typically in the second semester.


Pinky Downs Jr.

"Pinky" Downs Jr., class of 1906, had the honorary title of Official Greeter of A&M. He is credited with creating the tradition of "Gig 'em" associated with the fist and thumb up gesture.

Gig 'em: The hand sign is a closed fist with a thumb up. The hand sign tradition got its start in 1930 at a Yell Practice before a game against TCU. "Pinky" Downs, class of 1906, was a member of the A&M Board of Regents and gave a speech, asking the Aggies what they were going to do to the Horned Frogs. The term comes from hunting frogs or fish using a pronged spear called a "gig." Though Downs is often credited with coining the "Gig 'em" phrase, it appears to have been used on campus prior to 1930. It is featured in the 1922 yearbook, on a page introducing the track team.

Gig 'em phrase in Aggieland yearbook

The "Gig 'em" phrase is featured in the 1922 yearbook, then known as the Long Horn.

Good bull: Actions that promote the Aggie spirit and traditions.

G. Rollie White: G. Rollie White Coliseum, a.k.a. "Jollie Rollie" or "Holler House on the Brazos," was built in 1954 to house the basketball and volleyball games. It was also a concert venue. The coliseum was demolished in August 2013 in preparation for the expansion of Kyle Field.


Hiss: Part of the Horse Laugh yell, or a sign of disapproval. The hand signal is one's palms clasped together with fingers upright then shaken back and forth.

Howdy: The traditional Aggie greeting. Howdy Week during the spring semester is aimed to raise awareness of the tradition. "Howdy Dammit" shirts and car decals can be seen around Aggieland.

Howdy Camp: Orientation camp for incoming students starting in the spring semester.

Hullabaloo caneck caneck: The general consensus on what the phrase is mimicking is the sound of trains going over the tracks. When asked during a legislative session in the 1970s, former Texas A&M president Jack K. Williams joked, "It's Chickasaw Indian for 'Beat the hell outta the University of Texas.'" It is the opening line to the Aggie War Hymn. The Aggie Band drum majors tell the band, "Recall! Step off on Hullabaloo!"

Yell practice

Aggies put their hands on their knees and lean forward, aka "humping it," to project their voices. Photo taken in 1951.

Humping it: When Aggies participate in the yells, they put their hands on their knees and lean forward. The intention is to maximize the effect of their voices.


Junction Boys: In summer 1954, newly hired head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant took the A&M football team on a 10-day training camp in Junction, a small town about 54 miles northwest of Kerrville. Many players quit the team, due to the oppressive drought and heat wave, compounded with Bryant's denial of water breaks, a common practice of coaches at the time. The story was the subject of a Jim Dent book and a 2002 ESPN movie.


Kyle Field: All home football games have been played there since 1904, when it was a fenced field with wooden benches. The first deck of the stadium was completed in 1929. The stadium had a $485 million renovation in 2014 and 2015, and now has a seating capacity of 102,500.


March on the Brazos: Cadets participate in various competitions and complete a 14- to 18-mile round-trip march from campus to the Brazos River. It is an annual fundraiser for March of Dimes.

Maroon Out: Fans are encouraged to wear maroon T-shirts for one designated game each football season. The tradition started in 1998 in a game against No. 2 Nebraska. The Aggies won, 28-21.

Memorial Student Center: The student union building is the campus "living room," according to A&M Student Affairs. The building opened in 1951 and was dedicated to Aggies who lost their lives fighting in wars. The MSC underwent a $127 million renovation from 2009 to spring 2012, reopening on Aggie Muster Day. The student center features a Flag Room, Hall of Honor recognizing A&M's seven Medal of Honor recipients, an art gallery, media lounges, dining areas and the University Bookstore.


Texas A&M students and fans cheer during a Midnight Yell Practice at the Ft. Worth Stock Yards early Friday morning Jan. 4, 2013.

Midnight Yell Practice: Students and alumni attend a yell practice at midnight at Kyle Field the night before a home football game. For road games, a location is picked for a Midnight Yell Practice in the host city. The tradition includes speeches by the yell leaders, and occasionally by coaches and players. Aggies kiss their dates (or "mug down") when the lights go out.

Morrill Act of 1862: U.S. Rep. Justin Morrill sponsored the legislation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The act required each state to sell public lands and endow the profits to fund an educational institution to teach agriculture and mechanical studies and military tactics. The Agriculture and Mechanical College of Texas opened in 1876.

Mount Aggie: The practice ski slope is home for the Mountain Sports Club and private sledding parties for ages over 18. Mount Aggie is located on west campus between the intramural fields and tennis center on Penberthy Road.

Muster: Aggies around the world gather together on April 21, the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, to remember and celebrate the lives of those in the Aggie family who have died in the past year. "A Roll Call for the Absent" is called and candles are lit. The biggest ceremony is the one held on campus at Reed Arena.


Non-Reg: An undergrad student that is not a member of the Corps of Cadets.

Northgate: The entertainment district is across from the north entrance to campus on University Drive. Businesses include Dixie Chicken, Duddley's Draw, Dry Bean Saloon, Freebirds World Burrito, The Corner Bar and Hookah Station.


Off the wood: Aggies stand on the bleachers for the duration of football games as a symbolic act of the 12th Man tradition, except when a player on either side is injured.

Ol' Army: Or "Old Army," in reference to the early days of Texas A&M as a military school.

Ol Sarge cartoon 1955

The University of Texas left the Aggies mad in College Station after defeating them 21-6 during the 1955 Thanksgiving matchup.

Ol' Sarge: An official mascot of A&M that an undergrad drew in the 1930s and was a character in a comic strip printed in The Battalion. He is portrayed as a tough drill sergeant, representing the university's military history.

Olsen Field: The baseball field is named in honor of C.E. "Pat" Olsen, class of 1923. Olsen Field underwent a $24 million renovations after the 2011 season. The upgrades included a bricked front entrance, new locker rooms and player's lounge, club seats and new concession stands. It was rededicated as Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park at the first home game in 2012.


Parsons Mounted Cavalry: "The Cav" is a group in the Corps of Cadets that formed in 1973, and it is the only mounted ROTC unit in the United States. The Cav performs at halftime, parades and other events.

Pass back: Hand signals that the yell leaders use to direct the crowds to yell.

Pisshead: Sophomores

Push: Upperclassmen in the Corps punish freshmen by making them do pushups, usually because the fish has said a privileged word. The amount of pushups correlates to their class year.


Quad: The Corps residence halls and Duncan Dining Hall are located here.


Redpots: Students who were in leadership roles in building Bonfire were named redpots because of their construction hard hats.

Red ass: Students who closely follow Aggie traditions and promote the Aggie spirit.

Reed Rowdies: Fan club of the basketball teams, which play at Reed Arena.

Reveille I

The original Reveille had free rein of the campus, including the dorms and dining hall.

Reveille: The collie is the mascot and "First Lady" of A&M. Reveille holds the highest rank, Cadet General, in the Corps. Members of Company E-2 take care of her. The tradition began in 1931, when cadets accidentally hit a black and white dog with their car. They brought it back to their dorm. The next morning she barked when the morning wakeup call, Reveille, was sounded. The current mascot is Reveille IX. All the deceased Reveilles are buried in a designated cemetery on the north side of Kyle Field in the plaza, complete with a miniature scoreboard.

Ring Dance: The dance is held every spring semester for the senior class to mark the time when they can turn their ring around to be read by others when their palm is facing down.

Ring Dunk: The tradition is not sanctioned by the university. Students celebrate receiving their Aggie Ring by dunking it in a pitcher of beer or another beverage and drinking all of it as fast as they can, trying to beat their class year. For example, members of the class of 2014 will have 114 seconds. They finish by catching their ring between their teeth and posing with the "Gig 'em" hand sign. The tradition got its start in the 1970s at the Dixie Chicken. As of April 2005, the Chicken will only serve students a 32-ounce chugger of beer.

Ross Volunteers: The military honor company in the Corps of Cadets. The oldest student organization on campus is named for former A&M president Lawrence Sullivan Ross. It is also the official honor guard for the governor of Texas.


Saw Varsity's Horns Off: A yell at the end of the Aggie War Hymn that refers to the University of Texas football team, which was known as "Varsity" at the time the yell was written, and its longhorn mascot. Aggies lock arms and sway to replicate "sawing" the horns.

Sbisa: The largest dining hall on campus. It is named after a beloved mess steward, Bernard Sbisa, who worked for the university for almost 30 years.

Sea Ag: Students who attend the Galveston branch campus.

Aggie Band 1.jpg

Senior boots

Senior Boots: The tradition started in the 1880s for the Corps of Cadets. Juniors purchase custom-fitted knee-high cavalry boots after Final Review.

Silver Taps: The silent ceremony honors Aggies who have died while attending school. The ceremony occurs every second Tuesday of the month during the academic year. Families of those who died are invited to attend.

Singing Cadets: The second-oldest student organization on campus is an all-male choral group. The ensemble has performed for every living president.

Spirit of '02: A 3-inch caliber M1902 field gun was found buried in a ditch at a Bonfire cut site in 1974, and was restored. It has been fired to celebrate touchdowns at Kyle Field since 1984.

Spirit of Aggieland: The "spirit" describes the devotion Aggies have for Texas A&M and each other. It is the name of the school song.

Sully: The bronze statue of former university president Lawrence Sullivan Ross stands in front of the Academic Building. Students stack pennies on the statue base in hopes of having good luck during finals.


TAMC: Abbreviation for Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, which was the school's name from 1871 to 1963, when it was changed to Texas A&M University. The A&M was retained as an acknowledgment of the institution's roots, not as an abbreviation.

T-Camp: An orientation camp for transfer students.

teasip: A student who attends the University of Texas.

t.u.: How Aggies refer to the University of Texas in the spirit of rivalry.

12th Man statue1

12th Man statue

12th Man: Aggie fans call themselves this in support of the athletic teams. A&M students stand throughout football games in reference to E. King Gill in 1922. Injuries piled up during a game against Centre College. Coach Dana X. Bible called Gill — who had previously played with the team — to suit up and be ready to play. Gill stood on the sidelines the entire game "in case my team needed me," he said.

12th Man towels: The tradition started in the 1980s, when Jackie Sherrill held open tryouts for the 12th Man Kick-Off Team. The squad began carrying white towels they'd wave to motivate the crowds.

2-percenters: Those who don't actively participate in the Aggie traditions.


Uncover!: Aggie fans at football games yell this at people who don't take off their hats for a yell or the school songs.


Whoop!: Aggie upperclassmen say this as an expression of approval. Freshman and sophomores are not supposed to say it.

White out: Tradition for fans to wear white T-shirts at basketball games.

Whoopstock: The April festival celebrates the diversity of Texas A&M. The event was started in 1993 to counter a Ku Klux Klan rally in College Station.

Wildcat: Expressions that are reserved for each undergraduate class. For example, students can't "whoop" until their junior year.

Wranglers: The student-run exhibition western dance team, founded in 1984, is known for its jitterbug style. The team has performed in Europe and the Middle East.

Wrecking Crew: Term that gained prominence in the 1980s and '90s for the defensive reputation of the football team.


Yell Leaders: Five upperclassmen lead Aggies in yells at sporting events and Midnight Yell Practice. The student body elects three seniors and two juniors every spring.

Yell Practice: The tradition began in 1913. Yell leaders direct Aggies in the traditional yells starting at midnight the night before a football game. After the football team wins a game at Kyle Field, the freshman Corps members carry the yell leaders to the Fish Pond for a post-game yell practice.


Zip: Seniors. Corps seniors' garrison caps have a stitching along its edges that gives the appearance similar to a zipper.

-- Compiled by Claire Heathman

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