Definition of yo-yo in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈyōˌyō/

noun (plural yo-yos)

( trademark in the UK)
1A toy consisting of a pair of joined discs with a deep groove between them in which string is attached and wound, which can be spun alternately downward and upward by its weight and momentum as the string unwinds and rewinds.
Example sentences
  • It is something like the toy we call a yo-yo: you play with it and make it spin, but there is always a string attached.
  • Because the kids will be housed in DannyMart day care, there will be no need for yo-yos, squirt guns and other toys to clutter the shelves.
  • Like the yo-yo, the hula hoop, and the Mohican haircut, vehicle fads come and go.
1.1 [often as modifier] A thing that repeatedly falls and rises again: the yo-yo syndrome of repeatedly losing weight and gaining it again
More example sentences
  • A seasoned Weight Watchers member, Fiona already enjoyed a reasonably good diet but was still plagued by the all too familiar yo-yo syndrome.
  • Fad diets only add to the confusion and contribute to the yo-yo syndrome so many of us experience.
  • Now seriously committed to stopping the yo-yo syndrome, Jacqui is making amazing progress.
1.2 informal, chiefly North American A stupid, insane, or unpredictable person.

verb (yo-yoes, yo-yoing, yo-yoed)

[no object]
1Move up and down; fluctuate: popularity polls yo-yo up and down with the flow of events
More example sentences
  • While stockmarkets yo-yo around the world, the gravy train is picking up speed in one sector of the economy.
  • Hearts were relegated in 1977 and spent six years yo-yoing between the Premier League and the First Division before resurfacing as a competitive force in the mid-1980s.
  • Establish yourselves as a new unit rather than becoming the property of two families and yo-yoing between them.
1.1 [with object] Manipulate or maneuver (someone or something): I don’t want the job if it means he gets to yo-yo me around
More example sentences
  • I don't want to be the girl that's yo-yoed on a string, made to believe she's something she's not.


Early 20th century: of unknown origin.

  • Crazes for particular toys are nothing new. In the late 1920s the yo-yo was the latest thing. Although toys resembling yo-yos were known in ancient China and Greece, the name probably comes from the Philippines, where the yo-yo had been popular for hundreds of years. It entered English in 1915, and became a verb meaning ‘to move up and down, fluctuate’ in the 1960s.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: yo-yo

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