'Yo' - A Word People Live By Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Yo' - A Word People Live By

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In the newspeak that is slang and in instant messaging talk, many people notice a common greeting - Yo!

Truly, 'yo' is a powerful word that has influenced mankind. Pirate stories wouldn't be the same, if the famous refrain didn't start with:

Sixteen men on a dead man's chest
Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!
...while playing with a Yo-Yo would just be a complete waste of time.

Now, however, the word has gained new uses, which people should ultimately understand for two reasons. Firstly, anyone who feels the need to use the word should at least use it correctly, and secondly, to kill a little time.

How Is the Word Used?

'Yo' is used in several situations.

Yo as a Greeting

'Yo' is commonly used as a greeting. For instance, it is common to use 'yo' in phrases while attempting to entice women, as in 'Yo, how you doin'?'. Yo is also used as a greeting among friends in sentences such as, 'Yo, what's been happenin'?'

On chat rooms or instant messaging programs, where you have to type quickly, people often simply write 'Yo!' as a greeting in order to conserve time before writing their next message.

'Yo' is commonly paired with another greeting - 'what's up' or 'wassup'. At this time, 'yo' becomes somewhat of a prelude.

Yo as Your

'Yo' is commonly used as a substitute for 'your'. Usually, when said in this manner the person saying it is very angry. This is shown in sentences such as, 'Hey, you got yo' chips all ovuh mah stuff!' or 'What's yo' problem man?'

Yo as You

'Yo' is, on rare occasions, angrily used to mean 'you'. Usually the word is used in an attempt to wake up a stupid person, or at least get their attention. This is seen in, Hey! Yo! What's with that?! or Yo! Come back here!

In the latter two uses, 'yo' is used within the family of words that includes 'y'all', meaning 'you all' and 'yer', meaning 'your'.

Why Do We Use the Word Yo?

There are several reasons people use the word 'yo'.

Ride the Bandwagon

We all know the old saying, 'Everybody's doing it', and saying 'yo' is no exception. Many people judge others by the image they have created. If that person frequently says 'yo', that helps people know they are cool.


Many words and phrases are designed purely to attract attention. Advertisers have for years taken advantage of the impact that '50% off sale!' or 'Absolutely Free' have on people. The most powerful of these are swear words. If you shout one of these loud enough, people will pay a great deal of attention, often in the form of staring at the ground as hard as they possibly can. 'Yo', though not as potent, but which is rather less offensive, still has a significant impact on many listeners.

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