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

Tom Zurinskas truespel at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 1 15:51:46 UTC 2008

Sorry about the strange characters in the phonetic spelling.  What the world needs is an English based phonetic spelling (truespel) that copies and pastes with no problem in email.

We should all be familiar with the "" ads on TV.  It's pronounced YAH-hoo (~yaahue), or even yah-HOO (~yaahhue) in the TV ads, not YAY-hoo as says (not that isn't a great resource).  The ad pronunciation is perhaps a billion times more frequent in the ears of most folks than any other.

I've never heard anyone called a "yahoo".  It's rare.  It's mostly a happy interjection!  Why would a website call themselves "yahoo" if the meaning usually stood for "crass boorish or stupid?.

The logical "or" means the "yahoo person" can be boorish (surly rudeness), or crass (undignified), or stupid.  This is strange because one can boorish and crass without being stupid.

Two lemmas for one word?  In most dictionries if a word has two uses or meanings they are given under one dictionary word (as usually does).  It's nice to see that "yahoo" is recognized somewhere as an interjection (like yippee).

Tom Zurinskas, USA - CT20, TN3, NJ33, FL5+
See - and the 4 truespel books plus "Occasional Poems" at

> Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2008 10:29:59 -0400
> From: halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
> Subject: yahoo (was: 'Top Words from 2007'...)
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender: American Dialect Society
> Poster: Damien Hall
> Subject: yahoo (was: 'Top Words from 2007'...)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.)
> [snip]
>> 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
> these'.
>> 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
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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