Today’s New York Times carries the article titled “Veeps go yeep! Nation nods,” which is followed by the following statement:

“Obama versus Romney on Tuesday! That will be far more important than the conventions. Or the first debate, which President Obama sort of lost, in a game-changing moment that we are now prepared to completely forget because it’s all about the next debate.”

I find no entry of “yeep” in any of Cambridge, Oxford, OALED, and Merriam-Webster dictionary. GoogleNgram registers “yeep,” of which usage is seen in 1840, peaks during 1920 – 1960, declining since then on the graph.

Incidentally, Readers English Japanese Dictionary published by a Japanese publisher registers “yeepie” as an American slang meaning “Youthful energetic elderly people involved in everything.”

What do “Yeep” and “Go yeep” mean? Does “go yeep” mean ‘get heated and go energetic”?

I wonder if “yeep” is as well-received English word as being flashily used in the headline of a leading English language newspaper, because I don’t find it in any of English dictionaries.

  • 1
    The only dictionary reference I could find was wiktionary, which defines it as "a quiet yelp or scream," but gives no source. Personally I've never heard of the term. Oct 13 '12 at 21:30
  • 1
    After watching the debates, I believe Gail Collins (author of the article) is referring to a certain Martian duo. Then again, it may be Ms. Collin's habit of creating conspicuous headlines (e.g. "Let Them Eat Crow", "Gift of Glib") - some work; some don't.
    – Zairja
    Oct 14 '12 at 5:34

Sometimes people create funny words like Yeep by analogy with other onomatopoeic terms, like peep and cheep, which are two words often used to represent the sounds made by baby birds, which can be awfully noisy and ineffectual (remember that Big Bird is an issue in this presidential campaign and that as much as they might talk and squawk, chickens have no teeth). Then there are geese, which honk, another word for beep, as in beeping one's car horn:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28

When I was in Shanghai in 1989, I couldn't help but notice that everyone there drove with their elbows rapping out a constant tattoo on their bus, truck, and auto horns. It was a city full of sound and fury, especially after the Tien An Men Square incident.

The VP debates are usually full of sound and fury but signify nothing.

And Rory Alsop hits the nail squarely with rhymes with Veep.

I don't know whether the writer thought of all this, but it's possible. It's also one of those folk explanations for a particular behavior: one can always imagine a scenario to explain anything, even if it's wrong.

  • 2
    I'll have you know yeep is owl-speak: "A state of paralysis of the wings, brought on by a sudden shock of terror. Owls that go yeep are in danger of plummeting to their deaths." That aside, based on the article's content I'd say you're dead on. The headline translates as "Vice Presidents Make Noise, Nation Falls Asleep".
    – Zairja
    Oct 14 '12 at 12:48

Yeep can be found innumerable times in the book series called "guardians of ga'hoole." Yeep is refered to when an owls wings are locked at it's sides and it has lost its instinct to fly for a moment.

  • Welcome to English Language and Usage. This is possibly a good answer, but we usually ask for a source and link to support statements.
    – Cascabel
    Apr 4 '17 at 21:00
  • So it sounds like it is 'not a word' in English, or rather it is a made up word by the author of that book series. It did not catch on.
    – Mitch
    Oct 6 '20 at 12:28

Pretty certain it is just an exclamation to rhyme with Veep (Vice President)

I have heard "Yeep" used in similar contexts to "Eek" so am assuming the same is meant here.


Vice President exclaims. Nation is in agreement.

  • 1
    Ooooh, like "Eep!" with a Y in front. I had no idea what that headline meant the first three times I read it.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Oct 13 '12 at 23:18
  • 4
    I think Veep means "Vice President" (VP) not "Very Important Person" (VIP).
    – GEdgar
    Oct 14 '12 at 1:03
  • 2
    GEdgar. Yes, Veep means Vice presidnt, which I see pretty often in newspapers.
    – Yoichi Oishi
    Oct 14 '12 at 1:15
  • Maybe this: youtube.com/watch?v=sakyntOYdUQ
    – mplungjan
    Oct 14 '12 at 7:03
  • 1
    Perhaps nods meant not "in agreement" but "goes to sleep"?
    – GEdgar
    Oct 14 '12 at 12:27

I suppose this could be a lenghtened version of "yep" which is an exclamation that can be used in case of victory in a competition such as TV debate. So this may be a victory exclamation or an exclamation in expectation of the victory.

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