US Military Academy at West Point/West Point "Hives"


Can you clarity the reference to Hives when referring to some cadets ?

Good morning, Britt.  It's great to hear from you.  Thanks for your interest in West Point.

Cadet slang can be very interesting, and sometimes difficult to understand to those who haven't lived the experience.  My "recollection" from the 1966 to 1970 years there was that a "hive" was a Cadet who studied very hard and earned good grades.  That is differentiated from those Cadets who got good grades without studying hard!!  I don't recall a slang term for those lucky individuals.

That recollection is slightly different from the textbook definition I just looked up in my "Bugle Notes" that was issued to me in Beast Barracks.  The "Bugle Notes" was a small book (about 2.5" x 4"; hardbound; containing almost 300 pages of information about West Point that we were required to memorize, almost completely (maybe not the ads in the back!).  From the 1966 "Bugle Notes":

    HIVE, v. To understand, to comprehend.
      n. An intelligent person or one who learns quickly.

The slang term has apparently gone out of use, as it is absent from my two graduate son's "Bugle Notes" from 1992 and 1997.  From history, though, the definition has definitely evolved.

From 1925 and 1932 "Bugle Notes"

    HIVE, v. To understand, to comprehend. To apprehend one in the act of a breach of discipline.

Obviously the first definition remained unchanged over the next 41 years from 1925.  The second one disappeared (I won't try to read anything into that!   8>).  And a new one was added in my time.  And now the term would be unknown to present day Cadets.

I know this is more of an answer than you expected or bargained for, but it caught my curiosity and so I did the research and learned something too.

Have a great day!

Best Regards,

US Military Academy at West Point

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Bill Taylor


I can answer questions about admissions to West Point; about the history of West Point; about how to travel to West Point, where to eat, where to stay, etc.; and about West Point`s alumni organization, the West Point Association of Graduates.


I am a 1970 Graduate of West Point. I served six years on active duty and another 8 years in the active reserve. I have been actively involved as a Field Admissions Representative for over 20 years and have participated on my Congressman's Academy Selection Panel for over 25 years. I am actively involved in West Point Alumni affairs, serving in roles both with the West Point Association of Graduates and the local alumni chapter in Annapolis, MD. I also have two sons who graduated from West Point in 1995 and 2001. Both are veterans of the Iraq War and Afghanistan War. The 1995 Grad continues to serve on Active Duty in the Army.

Bachelor of Science, US Military Academy, 1970 Master of Science (Computer Science), The Johns Hopkins University, 1980

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