This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Word To Use Today: yo-yo.

How long is it since you played with a yo-yo?

It's too long, isn't it: aren't your fingers itching? Don't you long to experience again the deep quivering calm of the string unwinding, and the masterful, crisp, and yet only-just-sufficient twitch that sends the disc spinning obediently back up to your fingers?

Of course you do.

Over here in England the yo-yo's joyous diving and soaring had led to the verb to yo-yo, which means to change one's opinions or behaviour far too often to be sensible.

In the USA and Canada (rather sadly, I think) the yo-yo's actions have led to a yo-yo becoming a name for a stupid, easily manipulated person.

But yo-yos are so simple and innocent, right?

Ah, but even yo-yos have their dark side...

Word To Use Today: yo-yo. This word comes from the Filipino yo yo, which means come come. A yo yo was a weapon consisting of a spindle attached to a thong. As far as I can make out, the yo yo was used for tripping up animals, but the stone spindle part also seemed to have been used to kill humans, in this case by dropping the things on people's heads.

Simple, but probably effective, I'd have thought.


  1. I've personally never heard yo-yo used for a stupid person, or any person for that matter.
    But I have heard it used as the verb, to change opinions, etc.

    I'm a hopeless yo-yo'er. But I do love to watch those who are adepts.
    With the fun toy! Not the weapon!

    1. You haven't? Perhaps yo-yo in the stupid sense is used only quite locally - or perhaps the dictionary is plain wrong. It wouldn't be the first time:

  2. :) It probably is a local thing.
    "I know it's true, oh so true. Cos I saw it on TV"!
    John Fogerty.

  3. And, nowadays, because yo-yo + stupid has 2,840,000 hits on Google!