English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the origin of the word yummy, as in This food is yummy? All I can find are dates of known first uses.

share|improve this question
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Etymonline says:

"delicious," 1899, from baby talk. Yum-yum as an exclamation of pleasure is recorded from 1878.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language says:

From yum, the sound of smacking the lips.

The Collins English Dictionary says:

From yum-yum, of imitative origin.

Merriam-Webster says:

Origin of YUMMY: yum-yum. First Known Use: 1899.

Everyone seems to agree that this is an onomatopoeia.

share|improve this answer
'Yum' is the sound hard when lips smack? Sounds like a stretch to me. – Mark Oct 6 '11 at 14:31
yumyumyumyum sounds close enough to nomnomnomnom (frame of reference: animal sounds in other languages). Maybe the next generation of "yummy" will be "nommy". – tenfour Dec 20 '12 at 23:48
@tenfour: nom nom is already firmly established as meaning yummy, good to eat, as attested by 10's of millions of Google hits there. – FumbleFingers Dec 20 '12 at 23:57

Is it from the Chinese food culture of Yum Cha? Chinese immigrants flooded US and Australian goldfields from 1840s onwards.

share|improve this answer
The OED doesn’t seem to think so. You would need a reference. – tchrist Dec 21 '12 at 2:04

protected by RegDwigнt Dec 30 '12 at 18:44

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.