Over the last decade, internet lingo and «text-speak» has become the norm. Everyone knows what words like «WTF», «ROFL», «clapback», and «woke» are all about, thanks to the fact that we’re bombarded with these words all day long via social media.
Internet trends and memes come and go far too fast for us to follow them. Some, however, stick around and make their mark on our culture. «Yeet» is one great example of internet slang that has been and will continue to be around for a long time!
What Does Yeet Mean?
There are two definitions you need to know:
- A choreographed dance stylized by dipping one’s shoulder in rhythmic steps with both hands out in front and knees bent as if the performer is riding a bicycle. (KnowYourMeme).
- A word used to express excitement or approval. (Wiktionary)
Both of these meanings are correct, but in order to understand how to use each word accurately, you need to understand how both came into existence.
The Origin of Yeet
Back in February 2014, a strange new dance style began to appear on Vine and YouTube, using the hashtag #yeet. According to KnowYourMeme, there are five people who made the dance style popular (@1ballout__ @Thefuhkinmann @KronicCaviar @AXXXXJXY @JollyceM and @SmashBro_KB). The first video showing the dance was uploaded on February 12, 2014 by YouTuber Milk Fullilove.
By the end of the month (Feb 28th), a music video was uploaded to YouTube that pushed the dance to even greater popularity. The song was «Yeet» by Quill feat. Showtime & Yeet Squad. The next day (March 1st), a Yeet Dance YouTube page was launched, and quickly collected 29,000 views before the end of March. YouTube «how to» videos were soon available to teach how to yeet, including demo videos by some of those believed to have created the dance.
But it didn’t really take off until March 20th, when a Viner (Jasmine Nicole) uploaded a video of a young boy (nickname: «Lil Meatball») doing the dance on the running track at his school. Two weeks later, the video had 104,000 likes and 122,000 re-Vines.
At the end of March, a remixed version of the Lil Meatball video was uploaded to Vine (by Viner Noe Vazquez), using Lil’ Wayne’s rap song «A Milli». Two days later, Hip Hop Wired uploaded a slew of images featuring Lil Meatball photoshopped into dozens of different pictures.
The term «yeet» came into existence because of the popularity of the dance videos. In the background, as Lil Meatball and the other people are dancing, there are voices crying «yeet» in time with the music and movement. The word was quickly adopted not only to describe the dance, but also as an enthusiastic exclamation (similar to «woot»).
Fun Fact: One Redditor has a different take on «yeet»: it was an insult on Vine. I will get on there later so I can provide usernames but basically this man was insulting this other kid’s mixtape/CD and the man yells Yeet while throwing his CD outside and it blew up on Vine fairly quickly.
Yeet in Use Today
The word is used in two different ways today:
- According to the Urban Dictionary, «“yeet” can be bellowed with a full, guttural sound whilst lobbing an object furiously to assert authority.»
As an example, take this popular YouTube video:
Think of it as the exclamation that gives you extra power when you hurl something furiously!
- Urban Dictionary also says, «“yeet” can be used gently, like the faint brush of a butterfly’s wings as it crosses one’s lips, as one completes a difficult task.»
That moment when you finally crushed that bad-ass boss in Dark Souls or knocked out the last homework assignment of the academic year, that’s the moment when you say «Yeet!» (similar use to «woot» in this context).
You may not find as many uses of yeet today as you did in 2014—internet searches have dropped from 100,000 per month to around 34,000 in 2018—but it’s still a piece of internet history you’ll see floating around chat-rooms, Reddit boards, and social media. Like many memes, it’s not truly dead, just lurking in the shadows of the internet ready to make its comeback!