A man screams "YEET!!" while throwing an axe.
Jeffery B. Banke/Shutterstock

Yeet is one of the internet’s newest and least understood words. It’s used everywhere, seemingly without any form of context. But words have to mean something, and yeet does have a few precise meanings.

Yeet Has Two Distinct Definitions

At face value, yeet looks like a nonsense internet word that’s used without any concrete definition or context. It’s pasted on memes for seemingly no reason, and that one friend who spends too much time on Reddit can’t seem to stop nonsensically ad-libbing it.

For most uses of yeet, what you see is what you get. It’s just some word that sounds funny and expressive. It’s usually used in place of affirmative words like “boo-yeah,” but it’s sometimes used in place of regular verbs to bring humor out of everyday actions (like dancing, running, or tumbling down a hill).

But yeet isn’t actually a nonsense word, that’s just how most people use it. Yeet has a concrete definition: to forcefully throw an object with the confidence and authority of a god. You can see this definition at work in some memes and videos, and you can even use it in your everyday life.

When you’re done eating breakfast, you can yeet the eggy mess across the kitchen and into the trash. When you’re hungry as a horse, you can yeet your body into an Arby’s like a ragdoll. While performing these actions, you should yell “YEET,” because that’s what everybody in-the-know does.

So yeet is a word that means “to throw,” and it can be used as an exclamation while throwing something. It’s also used as a nonsense word, usually to add humor to an action or verbal response. But where did yeet come from, and why does it have two separate definitions?

Yeet Lore and Etymology

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when yeet became a word, but its meaning and usage seems to stem from 2000’s hip-hop.

In an Urban Dictionary entry from 2008, a man named Bubba Johnson defines yeet as an exclamation used when throwing an object in the air, especially “in basketball when someone has shot a three-pointer that they are sure will go in the hoop.”

Of course, people rarely use yeet as an actual word; it’s usually used as a nonsensical exclamation. This nonsensical usage is reminiscent of rap ad-libs, like 50 Cent’s “G-G-G-G-UNIT” or Lil John’s “YEEAAAH.”

While it’s possible that these funny rap ad-libs influenced the nonsensical meaning of yeet, it’s also likely that the word delved into nonsense on its own. After all, it was popularized by memes like Lil Meatball’s yeet dance in 2014, where it’s used as a generic exclamation without any discernible form or context.

When Do You Say Yeet?

A man stares at his laptop in agony. Is now the right time to say yeet?
fizkes/Shutterstock

Again, yeet is mostly used as a humorous nonsense word. You can technically use it whenever you want to chuckle, although you should probably avoid using it in professional situations. In fact, you should probably avoid using it in any situation where you might be ridiculed for shouting out a meme. (If you’re reading this article in public, it’s too late. Everybody knows that you’re super obsessed with memes now).

But some yeet-enthusiasts frown on the nonsensical use of yeet. If you want to respect the word’s concrete definition, you should exclaim “YEET!” as you throw or push an object, or when you forcefully run into an obstacle. Keep in mind that its effectiveness rests on self-confidence. If you aren’t confident in your throwing abilities, you should use yeet sparingly.

As for yeet’s use in everyday conversation, use it as you’d use any other verb. It isn’t strictly an exclamation; it’s just fun to yell “YEET” while something’s flying across the room.

The Yeet conjugation chart.
Conjugations Courtesy of Urban Dictionary

You can take things a step further by studying yeet’s verb tenses. We’ve included a handy Yeet Conjugation Chart in this article for your convenience. Feel free to share this chart as an educational resource, but keep in mind that yeet isn’t recognized as a word by Webster’s Dictionary yet. Its definition may change over time, and educators may frown on the word the same way that they spent a century frowning down on “ain’t” or “y’all.”

In other words, don’t put yeet in your next essay and don’t say it to your boss. Otherwise, they might yeet you right out of there.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew Heinzman writes for How-To Geek and Review Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers.
Read Full Bio »