Why have the young people chosen to elevate "yeet"?
May 5, 2021 12:59 PM   Subscribe

There are certain youth slang words that have always been around:"groovy", "cool", "awesome", "gnarly" and "lit" all work the same way, as a compliment. Then there are those words inspired by new developments: Social media led to "flex" and "low-key" and "high-key" and "virtue signal" and "humblebrag." But what explains "yeet"? Why is sudden expulsion suddenly so popular? Does it have something to do with the "eet" sound? Is it a reflection of how instantaneous technology has made processes, like "delete"?
posted by Borborygmus to Writing & Language (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
yeet is "throwing something" and it's just fun. I don't think it's directly related to the internet. It's kind of like yelling "colby" when making a basketball shot, that type of slang has been around for a while.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:04 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


Like whenever I can't tell what the kids are talking about these days, I go to KnowYourMeme, which has a history of the term, however unsatisfying.
posted by General Malaise at 1:05 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


(bbqturtle, I think you mean yelling "Kobe" when making a basketball shot)
posted by General Malaise at 1:07 PM on May 5 [40 favorites]


I have no real answer, but fwiw teen DTMFA says it's so popular because it's fun/satisfying to say and makes no sense!
posted by DTMFA at 1:10 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


(Thanks General Malaise... you can tell I'm not into basketball haha, I always thought the guy's name was Colby, and completely unrelated to Kobe Bryant)
posted by bbqturtle at 1:13 PM on May 5 [10 favorites]


It's just fun to say. It's slang and it's also onomatopoeia.

Also I'm pretty sure the youths are near about done with yeet. Source: I am 35 and say yeet.
posted by phunniemee at 1:13 PM on May 5 [17 favorites]


> General Malaise: "Like whenever I can't tell what the kids are talking about these days, I go to KnowYourMeme, which has a history of the term, however unsatisfying."

I believe this is an instance of knowyourmeme being somewhat out-of-date/off-the-mark. While the dance form of "yeet" is indeed the earlier one, it (imho) is no longer the dominant meaning. Rather, "yeet" now generally refers to throwing, casting aside, or otherwise discarding, used both literally (e.g.: "he yeeted that soda can into the garbage") and metaphorically (e.g.: "David Lee Roth was yeeted out of the band Van Halen"). In this case, I think we have a patient zero origination point for this usage of "yeet" via this Vine.
posted by mhum at 1:19 PM on May 5 [11 favorites]


Note: GenZ is big on not using it if white or Asian on the basis that it's appropriated from AAVE. All the other really good words are so I have no reason to disbelieve that and do not use it because I am white.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:22 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


This is a pretty good history of the word, which has meant a couple different things and passed through a couple different groups — some of them using it seriously, some of them using it as a joke. The vine mhum links to is one of the steps in the process.

FWIW, according to linguists who study this stuff, you can't predict a word's popularity based on the word itself. It's not about sounding good, or sounding like other words, or fitting into a particular philosophy. (If the "eet" sound is enough to make a word cool and fun, why aren't The Youths also saying "gleet" and "spreet" and "wheet" and "zeet," you know?)

What makes a new word catch on is the people who use it. If people you want to be like are using a word, you're more likely to adopt it. If those people are using the word when they're having fun, you're more likely to think the word is fun. Adopting it is a way of saying "Yeah, I'm part of this group too." Everyone does this to some extent — like, there are phrases I use just to say "I'm a middle-aged longtime Metafilter user! I'm cool like the other middle-aged longtime Metafilter users!" — but young people are especially interested in that sort of in-group-ish-ness, and especially innovative about expressing it, which is why slang spreads fastest among young people.

So at some point, I don't know if you're going to get an explanation beyond "It was used in these memes and vines and videos, and people thought they were cool and wanted to join in."
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:23 PM on May 5 [15 favorites]


Oh, also, Google Trends has a slightly different view of the "sudden explosion" in popularity of "yeet". Their chart estimates that the term grew in popularity from mid 2017 through late 2019 and has actually been in decline since. Granted, Google Trends is not necessarily authoritative on slang prevalence, but it is one data point and, fwiw, accords largely with my impression.
posted by mhum at 1:25 PM on May 5 [7 favorites]


I question the premise of this question.
There are certain youth slang words that have always been around:"groovy", …
The slang term “groovy” is less than a hundred years old. There are still people alive who remember when it was a new bit of youth culture, just like “yeet” is today.
posted by mbrubeck at 1:27 PM on May 5 [10 favorites]


According to my young relatives, yeet is so over that even their parents have stopped using it.

Google Trends shows some interesting details. If you limit searches to individual large US cities, you can see the very sharp spike of the dance in 2014, followed by relative silence, followed by the verb sense growing up to peak yeet in 2019 and tailing off. If you look at less urban areas in the US, there's the "they still think it's cool" popularity
posted by scruss at 1:36 PM on May 5 [5 favorites]


I've mainly heard Yeet as a term meaning to travel very quickly as in "He went yeeting down the highway on a motorbike."
posted by Lanark at 1:40 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


According to my young relatives, yeet is so over that even their parents have stopped using it.

Sadly it has joined "on fleek," "bitchin'," "groovy" and "swell" in that great repository of defunct slang.
posted by slkinsey at 1:42 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


What the hell is up with cheugy, is what I want to know.
posted by kindall at 1:48 PM on May 5 [12 favorites]


I am fascinated by some of the answers here, because my friend uses it all the time but does not use it as a verb. He uses it the same way someone would say "woo-hoo" or "yessss!" after something good happens. I have never heard it used as a verb until this very day, which probably underscores the fact that I am in my 40s.
posted by bedhead at 1:57 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


"Kobe for accuracy, yeet for distance".
posted by mhoye at 2:09 PM on May 5 [19 favorites]


What the hell is up with cheugy, is what I want to know.

It's a perfectly poggers word.
posted by jquinby at 2:20 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


I thought Yeet was a more inclusive form of Skeet. Has to be a connection there.
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:21 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


"Yeet" is the opposite of "yoink," is how my Girl Scouts explained it to me. (This is one of the less-talked-about benefits of volunteering with younger people.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:41 PM on May 5 [26 favorites]


People who are elevating yeet are all cheugy.
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 PM on May 5 [7 favorites]


"The Lord yeeteth, and the Lord yoinketh away."
posted by mhoye at 3:06 PM on May 5 [65 favorites]


It was the pog of times, it was the cringe of times,
posted by theodolite at 3:21 PM on May 5 [6 favorites]


Yeet is a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 4:04 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


If you look at less urban areas in the US, there's the "they still think it's cool" popularity

Yeet is no longer cool in my not-at-all urban area. My teenagers used to say it constantly but now have moved on to pog and its variants. I just asked them if they had heard the word "cheugy" and one said no and the other said she had just seen an article about it but had never heard it before that.
posted by Redstart at 4:11 PM on May 5 [3 favorites]


I think a possible answer to the question of why a word that means what yeet means found traction at the time it did, as opposed to a term that generally means "good," is because it was useful in things like video games (including/especially on Twitch and YouTube), and popular genres of real life YouTube videos like the ones from Dude Perfect. At the risk of stating the obvious, that wasn't really a consideration for the young people who popularized the word groovy.

[Pog/poggers came directly from Twitch, of course. I have been unsuccessful in figuring out if the more recent use of cap/no cap is related to the Twitch phenomenon Kappa/no Kappa]
posted by lampoil at 4:24 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


I’d heard tween Armoir use this many many times before I began to understand the meaning, the usage. I then embraced using it, as in “we’d better [bust a move] to the pizza place.”

It took only a couple times of my doing so, for her usage of it to drop dramatically.

Great AskMe question.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 4:33 PM on May 5 [4 favorites]


If the "eet" sound is enough to make a word cool and fun,

Yeet's got a neat, sweet beat to it; the rhyme's got meat, got heat. It evolved naturally, quite a feat, so there's no deets, but it's not a cheat or a bleat, more of a treat. It's through our common slang that we meet and greet each other, where we suckle at the teat of human language, ever evolving to express more fleet expressions. I'd go on, but I need to take a seat and eat.
posted by metabaroque at 4:38 PM on May 5 [9 favorites]


Y'all... Yeet meaning to throw something has its origins in a hilarious and satisfying Vine, also from 2014. https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/this-bitch-empty-yeet I highly recommend the video to understand the true spirit of the term.
posted by purple_bird at 4:59 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Yeet is no fetch.
posted by spacewrench at 7:40 PM on May 5 [1 favorite]


Ugh, stop trying to make fetch happen. *rolls eyes*

Slightly more seriously, I'm a nearly 50 year old woman in Australia (arse-end of the Universe) and have stopped hearing yeet from the stepkids. I do use it, but only to annoy them. It does still crop up from time to time - mostly in memes ("Yeet the child" seems to have longevity amongst my friend circle) but is otherwise dying as far as I can tell.
posted by ninazer0 at 7:49 PM on May 5 [2 favorites]


It is a way to show “happy/exclamation”.

(This was typed by my 10 year old)
posted by Valancy Rachel at 8:07 PM on May 5 [4 favorites]


There are inevitable variant uses, but I agree that the existence / creation of yeet as the opposite of yoink is pleasing.

Yoink is used as a sort of onomotopoeia for the act of grabbing, snatching, taking quickly for onesself.
One sees a favorite pastry on the tray and, Yoink! As if you were a human cartoon, making (thinking?) the animation noise for pulling on a rope or plucking out a single hair.

The opposite action from snatching something for / to yourself, is throw it far away.
Grenade lands at your feet? Pick it up and...Yeet!
Dog wants to chase a tennis ball? It brings it to you, and you Yeet it into the grass or down the beach, over and over. Spill salt, yeet a little over your shoulder to prevent bad luck.
Don't just yeet that banana peel out the car window.

Whatever your mental 'cartoon noise' for putting something in a catapult and launching it far away, that feeling(?) is now represented by Yeet.

Last slice of pizza? = Yoink.
Begone, Unwanted Item! ? = Yeet.
It persists because we didn't have a word for that fairly universal sentiment. Until now.
posted by bartleby at 3:28 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]


I'm really disappointed that no one's talked about GenZ yeeting across the street doing the Tide pod challenge. I think that phrase perfectly combines the whimsy of a yeeting movement with the ludicrousness of that challenge.
posted by Snowishberlin at 7:56 AM on May 7


My daughter agrees with teen DTMFA and adds that she hears ‘yeet’ occasionally from other teens but mainly ironically.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:01 PM on May 7


« Older Vegan hockey gear   |   Looking for a sci-fi book from the 60s or early... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments