Occasionally, a new word enters the lexicon of the internet, seemingly out of nowhere and without rhyme or reason. One notable example is “yeet,” which has been growing in popularity among young people—particularly on social sites like Twitter and Reddit—over the past few years. But what exactly does yeet mean? And where did it come from?
Despite being one of the internet’s newest words, yeet is one of the least understood. The word appears to be used everywhere without context. However, words have to mean something, and yeet has a few precise meanings.
Yeet Has Two Distinct Definitions
At first glance, yeet seems like a nonsense internet word used without any meaning or context. People paste it on memes for seemingly no reason, and the friend who spends too much time on Reddit can’t seem to stop ad-libbing it nonsensically.
When you use yeet, what you see is what you get. It’s just a funny word that sounds expressive. The word usually replaces affirmative words, such as “boo-yeah.” However, it is sometimes used in place of regular verbs to bring humor to everyday actions (such as dancing, running, or falling down a hill).
But yeet isn’t a nonsense word; that’s how most people use it. But it has a concrete definition: to throw something with the confidence and authority of a god. In some memes and videos, you can see this definition at work; you can even use it in your everyday life.
The eggy mess from breakfast can be tossed into the trash once you are finished eating. When you’re hungry as a horse, you can stuff your body into an Arby’s like a ragdoll. Whenever you perform these actions, yell “YEET,” because that’s what everyone knows to do.
Yeet is a word that means “to throw,” and can be used as an exclamation when throwing something. It can also be used as a nonsense word to add humor to an action or statement. Where did yeet come from, and why does it have two different meanings?
The early origins of ‘yeet.’
The short answer is that yeet is a versatile word that can be used as an exclamation, but it is not always. The word was first described by an Urban Dictionary user in 2008 as a way to express excitement.
The entry elaborated that it could be used in basketball, “when someone shoots a three-pointer they are certain will go in,” or, even more colorfully, “as ejaculate.”
The term later gained popularity in February 2014, thanks to a stylized dance of the same name that first originated on Vine and YouTube. The dance move has been described as “dipping one’s shoulder in rhythmic steps with both hands out in front and knees bent as if you are riding a bicycle.”
It remains unclear, however, where the yeet dance originated. According to YouTube user MilikFullilove, the first recorded instance occurred in February 2014.
Yeet usage and spread
During the summer of 2018, yeet was described ambiguously as a “beautiful and commonly misused word” on Urban Dictionary’s top definition.
Yeet, as time went on, it’s meaning evolved into what we are all familiar with today. According to Urban Dictionary’s top definition for 2021, “to discard an item at a high speed,” using the following example:
After finishing his soda, Alex throws his empty can into a trash can.
“Alex: [while throwing the can]: ‘YEET!’”
Yeet can also be used as an affirmative expression aside from being used as an exclamation when throwing something. Occasionally, it can be used in place of the words yes or yeah, but “if you want people to know you’re fun and hip.”
Yeet has many uses as a noun or verb, much like “Smurf” (or “jawn,” for those from Philadelphia).
As well, the term is also apparently used to describe someone who has suffered a dramatic defeat while playing a sport or video game. The possibilities are indeed endless!
Yeet Lore and Etymology
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when yet became a word, but its meaning and usage seem to have originated in hip-hop in the 2000s.
In an Urban Dictionary entry from 2008, a man named Bubba Johnson describes yeet as an exclamation used when throwing an object in the air, especially “in basketball when someone has shot a three-pointer they are certain will go in.”
Yet, it’s rarely used as a real word. It’s usually used as a nonsensical exclamation. I’m reminded of rap ad-libs like 50 Cent’s “G-G-G-G-UNIT” or Lil John’s “YEEAAAH.”
YET’s nonsensical meaning may have been influenced by these funny rap ad-libs, but it could also have come about on its own. It was popularized by memes such as Lil Meatball’s yeet dance in 2014, where it was used as a generic exclamation without any form or context.
When Do You Say Yeet?
Again, yeet is mainly used as a humorous nonsense word. In theory, you can use it whenever you want to chuckle, although it is probably not a good idea to do so in professional settings. You should probably avoid using it in any case where you might be ridiculed for shouting out a meme. (If you are reading this article in public, it is too late. Everyone knows you’re obsessed with memes now).