Georgetown University admits that the precise origin of the term “Hoya” is unknown. At some point before 1893, students well-versed in classical languages combined the Greek hoia or hoya, meaning “what” or “such”, and the Latin saxa to form Hoya Saxa!, or “What Rocks!” This cheer may either refer to the stalwart defense of the football team, or to the baseball team, which was nicknamed the “Stonewalls”, or to the actual stone wall that surrounds the campus.
After World War I, the term “Hoya” was increasingly used on campus, including for the newspaper and the school mascot. In 1920, students began publishing the campus’s first sports newspaper under the name The Hoya, after successfully petitioning the Dean of the College to use it instead of the proposed name, The Hilltopper. “Hilltoppers” was also a name sometimes used for the sports teams. By the fall of 1928, the newspaper had taken to referring to the sports teams as the Hoyas. This was influenced by a popular half time show at football games, where the mascot, a dog nicknamed “Hoya,” would entertain fans.
Georgetown’s unique team name has caused opponents to mock Georgetown with chants including “What’s a Hoya?”
Harrison High School, located in Kennesaw, Georgia, is the only other institution in the country licensed to share this name. However, Georgetown Preparatory School, which separated from the University in 1927, uses the name “Little Hoyas” for its sports teams and shares the University’s blue and gray color