Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Yips

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is yips. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Yips is a plural noun that refers to a state of nervousness that affects an athlete (such as a golfer) when they’re about to make an important move or play. It is almost always used in the phrase “the yips.”

// Afflicted with a sudden case of the yips, Doug tensed up and pulled his putt too far to the left.

YIPS in Context

“In his fourth season in Boston, [Daniel] Bard had a 6.22 ERA with 38 strikeouts, 43 walks and eight hit batters in 59⅓ innings. He had the yips, leading to a seven-year hiatus from the big leagues. He bounced around in the minor leagues trying to reclaim control before retiring from baseball in 2017 to become a player mentor and mental skills coach. Bard returned to the pros with the Rockies in 2020 and was named NL Comeback Player of the Year.” — Cydney Henderson, USA Today, 31 Mar. 2023

Did You Know?

When it comes to sports, yips happen. We’re not sure who coined yips; we also can’t say if this plural noun has anything to do with the singular yip, a word of imitative origin that refers to a dog’s sharp bark. What we do know is that the yips have sported their name since at least the 1930s, and that the term first appeared in golf-related contexts. Anxious for similar language? Perhaps you’re familiar with twisties, a term popularized in 2021 during the Tokyo Olympic games when gymnastics GOAT Simone Biles suffered from an affliction akin to the yips in which gymnasts experience a mental block causing loss of spatial orientation. Twisties doesn’t yet meet our criteria for entry, however, so we’ll have to bench it for now.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Leave a Reply