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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — yawp

July 24, 2012

Word of the Day

  • yawp
  • audio pronunciation
  • \YAWP\


: to make a raucous noise : squawk
: clamor, complain

I'm not one to yawp, but I was quite upset that we had to wait a week for a reply to our inquiry.

"Frogs croaked, nightbirds yawped, bats whirred…." — From Joe Kane's 2011 book Running the Amazon


"Yawp" first appeared sometime in the 14th century. This verb comes from Middle English "yolpen," most likely itself derived from the past participle of "yelpen," meaning "to boast, call out, or yelp." Interestingly, "yawp" retains much of the meaning of "yelpen," in that it implies a type of complaining which often has a yelping or squawking quality. An element of foolishness, in addition to the noisiness, is often implied as well. "Yawp" can also be a noun meaning "a raucous noise" or "squawk." The noun "yawp" arrived on the scene approximately 500 years after the verb. It was greatly popularized by "Song of Myself," a poem by Walt Whitman containing the line "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

From Merriam-Webster Online at

Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.