yeanling (n.) Look up yeanling at
"lamb, kid," 1630s, from yean + -ling.
year (n.) Look up year at
Old English gear (West Saxon), ger (Anglian) "year," from Proto-Germanic *jeram "year" (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German jar, Old Norse ar, Danish aar, Old Frisian ger, Dutch jaar, German Jahr, Gothic jer "year"), from PIE *yer-o-, from root *yer- "year, season" (source also of Avestan yare (nominative singular) "year;" Greek hora "year, season, any part of a year," also "any part of a day, hour;" Old Church Slavonic jaru, Bohemian jaro "spring;" Latin hornus "of this year;" Old Persian dušiyaram "famine," literally "bad year"). Probably originally "that which makes [a complete cycle]," and from verbal root *ei- meaning "to do, make."
year-long (adj.) Look up year-long at
also yearlong, 1813, from year + -long.
year-round (adj.) Look up year-round at
1917, from (all) the year round; see year (n.) + round (adj.). As an adverb from 1948.
yearbook (n.) Look up yearbook at
also year-book, 1580s, "book of reports of cases in law-courts for that year," from year + book (n.). Meaning "book of events and statistics of the previous year" is recorded from 1710. Sense of "graduating class album" is attested from 1926, American English.
yearling (n.) Look up yearling at
"animal a year old or in its second year," mid-15c., from year + -ling. Year-old (n.) in this sense is from 1530s.
yearly (adj.) Look up yearly at
Old English gearlic "yearly, of the year, annual;" see year + -ly (1).
yearn (v.) Look up yearn at
Old English giernan (West Saxon), geornan (Mercian), giorna (Northumbrian) "to strive, be eager, desire, seek for, beg, demand," from Proto-Germanic *gernjan (source also of Gothic gairnjan "to desire," German begehren "to desire;" Old High German gern, Old Norse gjarn "desirous," Old English georn "eager, desirous," German gern "gladly, willingly"), from PIE root *gher- (5) "to like, want" (see hortatory). Related: Yearned; yearning.
yearning (n.) Look up yearning at
Old English gierning, verbal noun from yearn (v.). Related: Yearningly.
yeast (n.) Look up yeast at
Old English gist "yeast, froth," from Proto-Germanic *jest- (source also of Old Norse jastr, Swedish jäst, Middle High German gest, German Gischt "foam, froth," Old High German jesan, German gären "to ferment"), from PIE root *yes- "to boil, foam, froth" (source also of Sanskrit yasyati "boils, seethes," Greek zein "to boil," Welsh ias "seething, foaming").
yeasty (adj.) Look up yeasty at
1590s, from yeast + -y (2).
yegg (n.) Look up yegg at
also yegg-man, 1901, a word popular in the first decade of the 20th century and meaning vaguely "hobo burglar; safe-breaker; criminal beggar."
The great majority [of the Chicago criminal population] are what certain detectives call "Yegg-men," which is a term, by the way, that the detectives would do well to define. As far as I can discover it means tramp-thieves, but the average tramp seldom uses the word. Hoboes that break safes in country post-offices come under the Yegg-men classification. [McClure's Magazine, Feb. 1901]
Popularized by the Pinkerton agency detectives. The 1900 "Proceedings of the 26th annual convention of the American Bankers' Association," whose members were protected by the Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, reported a letter dated Nov. 23 or 24, 1899, returning $540, taken earlier that year, to the Scandinavian-American Bank of St. Paul, Minn., noting that the thieves had been so hounded by detectives that they gave up the gains and advised the bank to advertise that it was a member of the American Bankers Association, because "the American Bankers Association is too tough for poor 'grafters.'" The letter supposedly was signed "John Yegg," but this was said to be a pseudonym and the report identified the man arrested later in the case as William Barrett.
yell (v.) Look up yell at
Old English giellan (West Saxon), gellan (Mercian) "to yell, sound, shout," class III strong verb (past tense geal, past participle gollen), from Proto-Germanic *gel- (source also of Old Norse gjalla "to resound," Middle Dutch ghellen, Dutch gillen, Old High German gellan, German gellen "to yell"), extended form of root of Old English galan "to sing" (source of the -gale in nightingale); from PIE *ghel- (1) "to call, cry out, shout, sing" (source also of Greek kikhle "thrush," khelidon "the swallow"). Intransitive sense from early 13c. Related: Yelled; yelling.
yell (n.) Look up yell at
late 14c., originally in Scottish, from yell (v.).
yelling (n.) Look up yelling at
mid-13c., verbal noun from yell (v.).
yellow (adj.) Look up yellow at
Old English geolu, geolwe, "yellow," from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Middle Dutch ghele, Dutch geel, Middle High German gel, German gelb, Old Norse gulr, Swedish gul "yellow"), from PIE *ghel- (2) "to shine," with derivatives referring to bright materials and gold (see glass). For other Indo-European "yellow" words, see Chloe.

Occasionally in Middle English used of a color closer to blue-gray or gray, of frogs or hazel eyes, and to translate Latin caeruleus, glauco. Also as a noun in Old English. Meaning "light-skinned" (of blacks) first recorded 1808. Applied to Asiatics since 1787, though the first recorded reference is to Turkish words for inhabitants of India. Yellow peril translates German die gelbe gefahr. Sense of "cowardly" is 1856, of unknown origin; the color was traditionally associated rather with jealousy and envy (17c.). Yellow-bellied "cowardly" is from 1924, probably a semi-rhyming reduplication of yellow; earlier yellow-belly was a sailor's name for a half-caste (1867) and a Texas term for Mexican soldiers (1842, based on the color of their uniforms). Yellow dog "mongrel" is attested from c. 1770; slang sense of "contemptible person" first recorded 1881. Yellow fever attested from 1748, American English (jaundice is a symptom).
yellow (v.) Look up yellow at
Old English geoluwian "to become yellow," from the source of yellow (adj.). Transitive sense from 1590s. Related: Yellowed; yellowing.
yellow journalism Look up yellow journalism at
"sensational chauvinism in the media," 1898, American English, from newspaper agitation for war with Spain; originally "publicity stunt use of colored ink" (1895) in reference to the popular Yellow Kid" character (his clothes were yellow) in Richard Outcault's comic strip "Shantytown" in the "New York World."
yellow ribbon Look up yellow ribbon at
The American folk custom of wearing or displaying a yellow ribbon to signify solidarity with loved ones or fellow citizens at war originated during the U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. It does not have a connection to the American Civil War, beyond the use of the old British folk song "Round Her Neck She Wore A Yellow Ribbon" in the John Wayne movie of the same name, with a Civil War setting, released in 1949. The story of a ribbon tied to a tree as a signal to a convict returning home that his loved ones have forgiven him is attested from 1959, but the ribbon in that case was white.

The ribbon color seems to have changed to yellow first in a version retold by newspaper columnist Pete Hamill in 1971. The story was dramatized in June 1972 on ABC-TV (James Earl Jones played the ex-con). Later that year, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown copyrighted the song "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree," which became a pop hit in early 1973 and sparked a lawsuit by Hamill, later dropped.

In 1975, the wife of a Watergate conspirator put out yellow ribbons when her husband was released from jail, and news coverage of that was noted and remembered by Penne Laingen, whose husband was U.S. ambassador to Iran in 1979 and one of the Iran hostages taken in the embassy on Nov. 4. Her yellow ribbon in his honor was written up in the Dec. 10, 1979, "Washington Post." When the hostage families organized as the Family Liaison Action Group (FLAG), they took the yellow ribbon as their symbol. The ribbons revived in the 1991 Gulf War and again during the 2000s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
yellowcake (n.) Look up yellowcake at
oxide of uranium, 1950, from yellow (adj.) + cake (n.).
yellowtail (n.) Look up yellowtail at
type of fish, 1709, from yellow (adj.) + tail (n.).
yellowy (adj.) Look up yellowy at
1660s, from yellow (n.) + -y (2).
yelp (v.) Look up yelp at
Old English gielpan (West Saxon), gelpan (Anglian) "to boast, exult," from Proto-Germanic *gel- (source also of Old Saxon galpon, Old Norse gjalpa "to yelp," Old Norse gjalp "boasting," Old High German gelph "outcry"), from PIE root *ghel- (1) "to cry out" (see yell (v.)). Meaning "utter a quick, sharp, bark or cry" is 1550s, probably from the noun. Related: Yelped; yelping.
yelp (n.) Look up yelp at
Old English gielp "boasting, pride, arrogance," from source of yelp (v.). Meaning "quick, sharp bark or cry" is attested from early 16c.
Yemen Look up Yemen at
southwestern region of Arabia, from Arabic Yemen, literally "the country of the south," from yaman "right side" (i.e., south side, if one is facing east). The right side regarded as auspicious, hence Arabic yamana "he was happy," literally "he went to the right," and hence the Latin name for the region in Roman times, Arabia Felix, lit, "Happy Arabia." Related: Yemeni.
yen (n.1) Look up yen at
Japanese monetary unit, 1875, from Japanese yen, from Chinese yuan "round, round object, circle, dollar."
yen (n.2) Look up yen at
"sharp desire, hunger," 1906, earlier yen-yen (1900), yin (1876) "intense craving for opium," from Chinese (Cantonese) yan "craving," or from a Beijing dialect word for "smoke." Reinforced in English by influence of yearn.
yenta (n.) Look up yenta at
"gossip, busybody," 1923, from Yente Telebende, comic strip gossip in 1920s-30s writing of Yiddish newspaper humorist B. Kovner (pen-name of Jacob Adler) in the "Jewish Daily Forward." It was a common Yiddish fem. proper name, altered from Yentl and said to be ultimately from Italian gentile "kind, gentle," earlier "noble, high-born" (see gentle).
yeoman (n.) Look up yeoman at
c. 1300, "attendant in a noble household," of unknown origin, perhaps a contraction of Old English iunge man "young man," or from an unrecorded Old English *geaman, equivalent of Old Frisian gaman "villager," from Old English -gea "district, region, village," cognate with Old Frisian ga, ge, German Gau, Gothic gawi, from Proto-Germanic *gaujan.

Sense of "commoner who cultivates his land" is recorded from early 15c.; also the third order of fighting men (late 14c., below knights and squires, above knaves), hence yeomen's service "good, efficient service" (c. 1600). Meaning "naval petty officer in charge of supplies" is first attested 1660s. Yeowoman first recorded 1852: "Then I am yeo-woman O the clumsy word!" [Tennyson, "The Foresters"]
yeomanry (n.) Look up yeomanry at
"yeomen collectively," late 14c., from yeoman + -ry.
yep Look up yep at
by 1889, American English, variant of yes, altered for emphasis, or possibly influenced by nope.
yer Look up yer at
representing a dialectal or vulgar pronunciation of your, attested from 1814.
yes (adv.) Look up yes at
Old English gise, gese "so be it!," probably from gea, ge "so" (see yea) + si "be it!," third person imperative of beon "to be" (see be). Originally stronger than simple yea. Used in Shakespeare mainly as an answer to negative questions. As a noun from 1712. Yes-man is first recorded 1912, American English.
yeshiva (n.) Look up yeshiva at
"Orthodox Jewish college or seminary," 1851, from Hebrew yesibah "academy," literally "a sitting," from yashav "to sit."
yessir Look up yessir at
1836, representing a quick reply of yes, sir (in 19c. writing typically of restaurant waiters taking orders). Extended form yessiree attested from 1846.
yester- Look up yester- at
Old English geostran "yesterday," from Proto-Germanic *gester- (source also of Old High German gestaron, German gestern "yesterday," Old Norse gær "tomorrow, yesterday," Gothic gistradagis "tomorrow"), originally "the other day" (reckoned from "today," either backward or forward), from PIE root *dhgh(y)es- "yesterday" (source also of Sanskrit hyah, Avestan zyo, Persian di, Greek khthes, Latin heri, Old Irish indhe, Welsh doe "yesterday;" Latin hesternus "of yesterday").
yesterday (n., adv.) Look up yesterday at
Old English geostran dæg; see yester- + day.
yesternight (n., adv.) Look up yesternight at
Old English gystran niht; see yester- + night.
yesteryear (n.) Look up yesteryear at
coined 1870 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti from yester- + year to translate French antan (from Vulgar Latin *anteannum "the year before") in a refrain by François Villon: Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan? which Rossetti rendered "But where are the snows of yesteryear?"
yet (adv.) Look up yet at
Old English get, gieta "till now, thus far, earlier, at last, also," an Anglo-Frisian word (cognates: Old Frisian ieta, Middle High German ieuzo), of unknown origin; perhaps connected to PIE pronominal stem *i- (see yon). The meaning in other Germanic languages is expressed by descendants of Proto-Germanic *noh- (source of German noch), from PIE *nu-qe- "and now." As a conjunction from c. 1200.
yeti (n.) Look up yeti at
1937, from Sherpa (Tibetan) yeh-teh "small manlike animal." Compare abominable snowman.
yew (n.) Look up yew at
evergreen tree of temperate Europe and Asia, Old English iw, eow "yew," from Proto-Germanic *iwo- (source also of Middle Dutch iwe, Dutch ijf, Old High German iwa, German Eibe, Old Norse yr), from PIE *ei-wo- (source also of Old Irish eo, Welsh ywen "yew"), perhaps a suffixed form of root *ei- (2) "reddish, motley, yellow."

OED says French if, Spanish iva, Medieval Latin ivus are from Germanic (and says Dutch ijf is from French); others posit a Gaulish ivos as the source of these. Lithuanian jeva likewise is said to be from Germanic. The tree symbolizes both death and immortality, being poisonous as well as long-lived. Reference to its wood as well-suited to making bows dates from c. 1400.
Yggdrasil Look up Yggdrasil at
great tree of the universe, 1770, from Old Norse ygdrasill, apparently from Yggr, a name of Odin + drasill "horse."
Yid (n.) Look up Yid at
generally derogatory term for a Jew, 1874 (Hotten, apparently originally British English), from Yiddish use, where it was complimentary (see Yiddish).
Yiddish (n.) Look up Yiddish at
1875, from Yiddish yidish, from Middle High German jüdisch "Jewish" (in phrase jüdisch deutsch "Jewish-German"), from jude "Jew," from Old High German judo, from Latin Iudaeus (see Jew). The English word has been re-borrowed in German as jiddisch. As an adjective from 1886. Related: Yiddishism.
yield (v.) Look up yield at
Old English gieldan (West Saxon), geldan (Anglian) "to pay, pay for; reward, render; worship, serve, sacrifice to" (class III strong verb; past tense geald, past participle golden), from Proto-Germanic *geldan "pay" (source also of Old Saxon geldan "to be worth," Old Norse gjaldo "to repay, return," Middle Dutch ghelden, Dutch gelden "to cost, be worth, concern," Old High German geltan, German gelten "to be worth," Gothic fra-gildan "to repay, requite"). This is from PIE *gheldh- "to pay," a root found only in Balto-Slavic and Germanic (and Old Church Slavonic žledo, Lithuanian geliuoti might be Germanic loan-words).

"[T]he only generally surviving senses on the Continent are 'to be worth; to be valid, to concern, apply to,' which are not represented at all in the English word" [OED]; sense development in English comes via use of this word to translate Latin reddere, French rendre. Sense of "give in return for labor or capital invested" is from early 14c. Intransitive sense of "give oneself up, submit, surrender (to a foe)" is from c. 1300. Related to Middle Low German and Middle Dutch gelt, Dutch geld, German Geld "money." Related: Yielded; yielding.
yield (n.) Look up yield at
Old English gield "payment, sum of money; service, offering, worship;" from the source of yield (v.). Extended sense of "production" (as of crops) is first attested mid-15c. Earliest English sense survives in financial "yield from investments."
yielding (adj.) Look up yielding at
late 14c., "generous in rewarding," present participle adjective from yield (v.). From 1660s as "giving way to physical force."
yikes Look up yikes at
exclamation of alarm or surprise, by 1953; perhaps from yoicks, a call in fox-hunting, attested from c. 1770. Yike "a fight" is slang attested from 1940, of uncertain connection.
yin (n.) Look up yin at
feminine or negative principle in Chinese philosophy, 1670s, from Chinese (Mandarin) yin, said to mean "female, night, lunar," or "shade, feminine, the moon." Compare yang. Yin-yang is from 1850.