yahoo (was: 'Top Words from 2007'...)

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Apr 1 14:29:59 UTC 2008

Tom said:

> Main Entry: 1ya·hoo
> Pronunciation: \ˈyā-(ˌ)hü, ˈyä-\
> Function: noun
> Inflected Form(s): plural yahoos
> Date: 1726
> 1capitalized : a member of a race of brutes in Swift's Gulliver's Travels who
> have the form and all the vices of humans
> 2[influenced by 2yahoo] : a boorish, crass, or stupid person
> — ya·hoo·ism  \-ˌi-zəm\ noun

(BTW, the strange characters, if you see strange characters above, are what
appeared in my copy of this message, but I looked the word up in _MW Online_ to
see what the lemma actually said.)


> Strange definition 2; because one could be boorish and crass while not being
> stupid.  They probably mean "and" stupid.

No, the _or_ is disjunctive, not conjunctive:  'someone who (the speaker
considers) is boorish, or crass, or stupid, or a combination of one or more of

> I thought the word "yahoo" was just a happy exclamation of western roots like
> yippee.  But that's not in the definition above.

No, because it is given a separate lemma in both _MW_ and the _OED_ (to take
another example).  In both dictionaries, the noun senses of _yahoo_ are
definition 1, and the interjection / exclamation sense is definition 2.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

The American Dialect Society -

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