On the Texas A&M University campus and among Aggies around the world, you'll hear words and phrases that are unique to the Aggie Family. Read about some of our most widely used terms and sayings and how they started.
Beat the Hell Outta
"Beat the hell outta" — or BTHO for short — is the beginning of one of Texas A&M's most popular yells. On gamedays, Aggies end the phrase with the name of whichever school our football team is playing against. You may also hear "Beat the hell outta" in reference to other challenges that Aggies are eager to overcome, such as final exams.
Learn "Beat the hell outta" and other Aggie yells on the Yell Leaders website.
"Former student" is the preferred term for an individual who was once a Texas A&M student. This term dates back to the university's early days, when many students would attend school long enough to gain the necessary training and education but would not always graduate. Regardless of the length of time spent on campus, the devotion of these Aggies to Texas A&M remained strong. "Alumnus" is an acceptable term for a graduate, but "ex-Aggie" is not. Aggies strongly believe that "once an Aggie, always an Aggie!"
Visit our former students page to learn more.
Aggies often flash a thumbs up and say “Gig ’em!” — a phrase that dates back to 1920. It was popularized when P.L. “Pinkie” Downs, a member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents and Class of 1906, asked the crowd at a yell practice before a Texas Christian University football game, “What are we going to do to those horned frogs?” He answered his own question with “Gig ’em, Aggies!” — referencing a sharp-pronged frog-hunting tool called a gig. For emphasis, he made a fist with his thumb extended straight up.
Today, the phrase and thumbs-up gesture are a symbol of Aggies’ optimism, determination, loyalty and the Aggie Spirit. Usually done with the right hand, the Gig ’em sign also showcases the Aggie Ring, traditionally worn on that hand.
“Good Bull” is a phrase used to describe anything that embraces or promotes the Aggie Spirit or the traditions of Texas A&M. It is also used to signify approval. For example, a group of Aggies raising money to help victims of a natural disaster would be an instance of Good Bull.
Aggies “hiss” to show disapproval as a more polite alternative to booing. At football games, Aggie students and fans can often be heard hissing — paired with the hand signal of putting both hands flat together and shaking them — in response to play calls they disagree with. The idea of hissing originated from the Horse Laugh yell, which is still used today.
“Howdy” is the official greeting of Texas A&M. Students greet one another — and especially campus visitors — with a “Howdy.” The origins of this tradition are unknown, but it is one that Aggies proudly continue.
Aggie upperclassmen and graduates will often say “Whoop!” as an expression of approval or excitement. It is also often used at the end of Aggie yells. Underclassmen are not supposed to "Whoop" until they reach either junior or senior status.
Current students at Texas A&M use "wildcats," which are hand motion-expression combinations that are unique to each class level and show class pride. Wildcats are used at the end of yells, when students hear their class year, while introducing themselves with the howdy greeting or when something exciting happens.
The following are the wildcats for each class:
- Freshman – Raise your hands above your head and yell a continuous "AAAA……."
- Sophomore – Chant "A! A! A! A! A!" while making an L-shaped pistol with each of your hands and waving them up and down in front of your torso five times.
- Junior – Put the individual ‘pistols’ together and yell "A! A! A! Whoop!" using the same downward-pointing hand motion as the sophomore wildcat.
- Senior – Point your hand pistol down once and yell “A!” Then, point up over your shoulder, tuck your right foot behind your left knee, and yell “Whoop!”
More Texas A&M Traditions
Explore more of the traditions that unite our current and former students, build camaraderie and foster the Aggie Spirit.
The Aggie Ring is a symbol of camaraderie and dedication. Read about its history and the meaning of the images engraved on it.