The answer leads all the way back to 1896 when Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College changed its name to Virginia Polytechnic Institute. With the change came the necessity for writing a new cheer and a contest for such a purpose was held by the student body. Senior O.M. Stull won first prize for his "Hokie" yell which is still used today. Later, when asked if "Hokie" had any special meaning, Stull explained the word was solely the product of his imagination and was used only as an attention-getter for his yell. It soon became a nickname for all Tech teams and for those people loyal to Tech athletics. The official university school colors - Chicago Maroon and Burnt Orange - also were introduced in 1896. The colors were chosen by a committee because they made a 'unique combination' not worn elsewhere at the time.
The official definition of "hokie" is "a loyal Virginia Tech Fan". The bird is a "HokieBird" which has evolved from a turkey. Virginia Tech teams were once called the "gobblers"!