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yo-yo Line breaks: yo-yo
Pronunciation: /ˈjəʊjəʊ/
( trademark in the UK)

Definition of yo-yo in English:

noun (plural yo-yos)

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: with a flick of the wrist, she sent the yo-yo spiraling down and watched it spin there
More 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 fluctuates: 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.
2 informal , chiefly North American A stupid, insane, or unpredictable person: they think they’re tangling with some small-town yo-yos, but they’re not

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

[no object, usually with adverbial of direction] Back to top  
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.
oscillate, swing, fluctuate, alternate, see-saw, veer, waver, sway, go from one extreme to the other, vary, vacillate, teeter, hover
informal wobble, blow hot and cold
1.1 [with object] Manipulate or manoeuvre (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: probably ultimately from a language of the Philippines.

  • 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.

Words that rhyme with yo-yo

caudillo • El Niño

Definition of yo-yo in:

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