Call me a stubborn old editor wound tight as a wall clock, but I believe this generation lacks the vast vocabulary of the past. Abbreviations often replace words and even sentences and the overuse of emojis has caused the art of conversation, as well as the art of film, to suffer.
In addition, slang language, which has existed in print since the 1800s, is now more prevalent than before. Yet of all the slang words from “Gucci” to “G.O.A.T” one word has proven to be more universally utilized than possibly any other.
However, like most modern fads, this has left me puzzled on how it rose from the internet and become such a common phrase. So after searching and exploring the bowels of the internet, I must pose a question that I’m sure many have been asking over the past decade; what does it mean to “yeet?”
Yeeting can take on several definitions, some simple and others rather abstract.
The exact origins of the word “yeet” are unknown, nevertheless, the word has been tossed about with several different meanings over the past decade.
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An Urban Dictionary user described the word as an expression of excitement, particularly during a basketball game.
The most common yet complex definition of yeet is “an exclamation of excitement, approval, surprise or all-around energy, often as issued when doing a dance move or throwing something,” according to Dicionary.com.
As a dance move, the yeet, which is basically a prominent swinging arm chop, has gained much popularity over social media. Possibly the earliest and most notable example of yeeting is Lil Meatball, a rapper. In March of 2014, vine user, Jas Nichole posted a video of Meatball dancing surrounded by people off camera chanting “Yah yeet yah.”
The video was an instant hit, reaching over four million views on YouTube and causing the popularity of the word yeet to spike exponentially.
With the advent of Vine, yeet came to possess multiple meanings depending on the context. A series of videos from various vine users feature a person holding a bottle, declaring it to be empty and chuck it across the room, screaming “YEET!”
Now all of the above are examples of what one might consider yeeting. But the question still remains, what does it truly mean to yeet?
Frankly, there may never be a definitive answer, but from what I’ve studied I believe it is the verbal equivalent of an exclamation point. Think about it. The excitement of a basketball game, the dance move, the act of tossing something, all of them are very energetic and excitable acts. Much like how an exclamation point adds emphasis or importance to a sentence, so does the word “yeet” to our everyday lives.
I believe to yeet is to concentrate all of one’s passion, effort and emotion into a single action. Whether the emotions be positive or negative, they all play a part in the act of yeeting.
So the next time someone mocks you for using such an absurd word, consider it less of a cool word that the kids say and more of a verbal exclamation point.
We may not know what the future of the rapidly evolving internet culture brings nor do we know the lifespan of the word yeet, but for the moment, let us all yeet joyfully now and maybe one day we can look back on the word with fondness and nostalgia.
Until then, live long and yeet on.
Samuel J. Claude