7

In my country, people use the word "Yahoo" as an expression of enthusiasm, joy, jubiliation and victory.

What is the origin and original meaning of the word yahoo? As for that matter, what is most commonly accepted meaning of the word today? Is it commonly used as an expressive word nowadays? Or, is it the case that it is just the popular website, and the word has otherwise become redundant?

3
  • 5
    "my country" Just out of curiousity, what is your country? Feb 15 '11 at 16:07
  • 4
    That is my real name you see, you can take a guess :D Feb 15 '11 at 16:55
  • 1
    I was watching a program and the muslim being interviewed kept pronouncing Yahweh as "YAHOO". So I began to research this term, but can't find anything beyond Gulliver's Travels.
    – user7235
    Apr 11 '11 at 13:49
8

The word yahoo can be used in English in the same way you mention, that is, as a cheer. In fact, some commercials for the company Yahoo! actually ends with someone yelling/singing "Yahooooo!".

It can also refer to an uncultured or brutish person. This usage was coined by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels, where Yahoo was a race of brutes.

Finally, as you hinted at, because of the success of the company Yahoo!, it's probably more common to hear it referring to the company rather than one of the other meanings. That being said, it has not at this point become so conjoined with the company that no one would understand if you cheered "Yahoo" or referred to a group as "a bunch of yahoos."

5
  • 2
    A pity that Swift's Houhynyms did not catch on similarly....
    – Hellion
    Feb 15 '11 at 16:25
  • 1
    As additional information, yahoo as exclamation is first recorded in the 1970s.
    – apaderno
    Feb 15 '11 at 16:26
  • 1
    I'd put it sometime before the 1970s -- the Yahoo were named after their yells, not the other way around. Since the name for the Houhynyms is onomatopoeic (it's rendered as "whinny" in standard English) it's likely that yahoo was current boorishness in Swift's time.
    – bye
    Feb 16 '11 at 16:48
  • "someone yelling/singing "Yahooooo!". Technically he was yodeling. The yodeler actually sued Yahoo! on the grounds the commercial was more successful than he was expecting when he agreed to the $1000 or so he was paid. Even in the suit-happy US, his claim was dismissed in court almost instantly. Apr 12 '11 at 16:49
  • Do you happen to be some kind of an authority on the subject? I do not see any citations and presume that the whole thing is either your personal opinion or you are an acknowledged authority. Any enlightenment?
    – Kris
    Sep 2 '13 at 6:41
2

A Yahoo is a legendary being in the novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift.

1
  • 2
    Not legendary beings, just people acting naturally, without the appearance of wisdom and dignity that technology lends us. Likewise, the Houhynym were nothing more than horses.
    – bye
    Feb 16 '11 at 16:43

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