alley-oop (basketball)

Discuss word origins and meanings.
Post Reply

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Topic » Mon Dec 31, 2001 7:15 am

I am searching for the origination of the basketball term, "alley-oop." I am a broadcaster for the Indiana Pacers and we have an e-mail segment for listeners, and this is one of the questions we have received. Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated. All I have found so far is that "alley-oop" has been sreamed by a circus acrobat about to leap.

Thanks,
Kevin Lee
United States
kevin@wibc.emmis.com

Submitted by Kevin Lee (Indianapolis - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Topic imported and archived

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 7:29 am

I believe the origin is the French expression "Allez! Houp!" (or "Allez! Hop!"), which means roughly, "Go on! Jump!" or "Off you go!" (Pronunciation note: In French, the initial 'h' of many words is not aspirated, similar to the typical US pronunciation of 'herb'.)

I have also heard this phrase used by one or two people from Yorkshire, England as a mild interjection expressing surprise, but this may not be typical (more research needed!).
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 7:44 am

This is very interesting, wonder if this expression has also made its way into the Arabic language (Egyptian Dialect). I am assuming that this expression made its way due to the French influence in Egypt; that is, if the expressions are similar.

It is common to hear this expression (some thing very close) used by laborers when they are collectively heaving or lifting a large, heavy object. They would say "Hailly Hooph" to muster the strength needed to do the work, have not heard this in other Arabic Dialicts.If you ever watch any of the Documentary's that show the reenactment of building the pyramids pay particular attention to the Egyptian manual workers and their foreman.
Ahmed
14th of May,2004
Reply from Ahmed ELNamer (Dawson Creek - Canada)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 7:58 am

Kevin, Here’s what Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary had to say:

ALLEY-OOP: a basketball play in which a leaping player catches a pass above the basket and immediately dunks the ball.

Etymology: alteration of earlier ‘allez-oop,’ cry of a circus acrobat about to leap, probably from French ‘allez,’ 2nd person plural imperative of ‘aller’ to go + English ‘oop,’ alteration of up.
_________________________

The basketball expression ‘alley-oop shot,’ originally meaning a shot which travels in a high arc, was coined in the late 1960s by Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn to describe a shot used by Lakers guard John Egan when he had to shoot over taller players.

(Language of Sport by Considine)
__________________

Ken G – May 18, 2004
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 8:13 am

I find the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary's hypothesis that the second part of the phrase arises from the English 'oop' highly suspect.

Firstly, 'oop' is far from being a Standard English pronunciation, occurring mostly in regional speech in parts of northern England.

Secondly, how is this variant of the standard English term supposed to have got tagged onto the end of the French 'Allez!'?

Thirdly, the circus has at least as long a tradition on the European mainland as it does in England and the USA, implying that French acrobats too needed a term with which to prompt one another to jump (it would be interesting to know if they also habitually use this term).

Fourthly, in French both 'Houp!' and 'Hop'! also exist independently of 'Allez!' as well as in association with it, making it even less likely that the variant English 'oop' has anything whatever to do with the expression 'alley-oop'.

Methinks the lazy do attest too much!
Reply from Erik Kowal ( - England)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

alley-oop (basketball)

Post by Archived Reply » Mon Dec 31, 2001 8:27 am

Erik, I agree with you in every respect. My native language, the Alemannic dialect that is also known as Swiss German, was partly influenced by French mainly during the Napoleonic occupation 200 years ago. "Allez-hop" has been around here ever since. What's more, "hopp" (turning to "hopp-hopp-hopp" as the action climaxes) seems to have been used as an incentive shout by athletes, circus acrobats and spectators alike in most German-speaking areas for at least 100 years. My Grandpa, a schoolteacher born 1889, said it sounded a bit old-fashioned to him. By the way, Greeks say "Opa!" (originally "Hopa!") to cheer on their favorite dancers. Although I'm fairly fluent in Modern Greek, I wasn't able to find out if it has the same origin as "hop / hopp."
Reply from Hans Joerg Rothenberger (Walenstadt - Switzerland)
Post actions:
Signature: Reply imported and archived

End of topic.
Post Reply