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Yahoo (Gulliver's Travels)

Yahoos are legendary beings in the 1726 satirical novel Gulliver's Travels written by Jonathan Swift.[1] Their behavior and character representation is meant to comment on the state of Europe from Swift's point of view.[1] The word "yahoo" was coined by Jonathan Swift in the fourth section of Gulliver's Travels[2] and has since entered the English language more broadly. Its most famous use is as the name of a pioneering search engine, Yahoo!.[citation needed]

The Servants Drive a Herd of Yahoos into the Field by Louis John Rhead, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The original character

Swift describes Yahoos as filthy with unpleasant habits, "a brute in human form,"[2] resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver. He finds the calm and rational society of intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms, greatly preferable.

The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with "pretty stones" that they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term "yahoo" has come to mean "a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person".[3]

Later mentions

American frontiersman Daniel Boone, who often used terms from Gulliver's Travels, claimed that he killed a hairy giant that he called a Yahoo.[4]

Yahoos were referred to in a letter sent by serial killer David Berkowitz to New York City police while committing the "Son of Sam" murders in 1976.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b Chowdhury, Romana (April 2014). "Swift's Use of Satire in Gulliver's Travels" (PDF). BRAC University: 31–36 – via BRAC University.
  2. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "yahoo". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  3. ^ "yahoo". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  4. ^ "Did fiction give birth to Bigfoot? by Hugh H. Trotti". Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2007-03-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam". Crime Library. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Killer Book of Serial Killers: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from ... - Tom Philbin, Michael Philbin - Google Boeken