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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — yahoo

Good morning, Netizens...

November 23, 2012

Word of the Day

  • yahoo
  • audio pronunciation
  • \YAH-hoo\


: a boorish, crass, or stupid person

Henrietta had a few choice words for the yahoo who blocked her driveway with his pickup truck.

"'The night watchman down there picked up something on a motion detector and looked around and saw these two yahoos trying to carry off a pretty good size chunk of bronze and aluminum,' said Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite." — From an article in the Marietta (Ohio) Times, September 25, 2012


We know exactly how old "yahoo" is because its debut in print also marked its entrance into the English language as a whole. "Yahoo" began life as a made-up word invented by Jonathan Swift in his book Gulliver's Travels, which was published in 1726. The Yahoos were a race of brutes, with the form and vices of humans, encountered by Gulliver in his fourth and final voyage. They represented Swift's view of mankind at its lowest. It is not surprising, then, that "yahoo" came to be applied to any actual human who was particularly unpleasant or unintelligent. Yahoos were controlled by the intelligent and virtuous Houyhnhnms, a word which apparently did not catch people's fancy as "yahoo" did.

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