Gig ‘em Aggies is both a saying and the universal hand gesture of all Texas A&M University current and former students as sign of affiliation. The hand gesture, a thumbs up, can be made with an upward-type motion or used in conjunction with the saying.
This tradition began at the 1930 Midnight Yell Practice
, held before the football
game against the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
. In an attempt to fire up the crowd, Pinky Downs, a 1906 Texas A&M graduate and member of the school's Board of Regents, asked "What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?" He answered his own question, "Gig 'em, Aggies!" (in this case meaning to spear them with a pronged fishing spear called a gig
). For emphasis, he made a fist with the thumb extended. The phrase and hand signal proved popular, and it became the first hand sign of the Southwest Conference
While Downs is universally credited with originating the "Gig 'em" hand signal, the story of the origin is disputed by one online columnist. The alternate story is that one day Pinky was punishing two freshmen cadets for some infraction by having them do pushups. A senior cadet walked by and said "Gig 'em, Pinky!", in this case a "gig" meaning a military demerit. Pinky then turned and gave the senior a thumbs up sign, a hand sign commonly used in the military to signal "OK" or "Good to go".