[ yoh-yoh ]
See synonyms for: yo-yoyo-yoedyo-yoingyo-yos on Thesaurus.com

noun,plural yo-yos.
  1. a spoollike toy consisting of two thick wooden, plastic, or metal disks connected by a dowel pin in the center to which a string is attached, one end being looped around the player's finger so that the toy can be spun out and reeled in by wrist motion.

  2. something that fluctuates or moves up and down, especially suddenly or repeatedly.

  1. Slang. a stupid, foolish, or incompetent person.

  1. Informal. moving up and down or back and forth; fluctuating; vacillating: yo-yo prices; a yo-yo foreign policy.

verb (used without object)
  1. Informal. to move up and down or back and forth; fluctuate or vacillate: Mortgage rates are still yo-yoing.

verb (used with object)
  1. Informal. to cause to yo-yo.

Origin of yo-yo

First recorded in 1915–20; of undetermined origin; possibly from Ilocano yóyo or a related language as the name of a Philippine toy

Words Nearby yo-yo

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use yo-yo in a sentence

  • Then the yo-yo blew up, very quietly, as things do where there is no air to carry shock-and sound-waves, but very brilliantly.

    Space Viking | Henry Beam Piper
  • That's pretty hard to keep track of, because I was like a yo-yo, back and forth from one parent to the other.

    Warren Commission (8 of 26): Hearings Vol. VIII (of 15) | The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
  • Bu-bu-bu-but wh-wh-what wo-wo-would th-th-the re-re-reb be-be-been do-do-doing; yo-yo-you in-in-infernal blockhead!

    A Boy Trooper With Sheridan | Stanton P. Allen
  • “Gabbi, gabbi,” said the dwarf, greatly excited; and when we turned towards it “yo-yo-yo” in approval.

    Spinifex and Sand | David W Carnegie
  • "I d—d—d—do promise, if—yo—yo—yo—you—don't—duc—" and in he went again.

    The Humors of Falconbridge | Jonathan F. Kelley

British Dictionary definitions for yo-yo


/ (ˈjəʊjəʊ) /

nounplural -yos
  1. a toy consisting of a spool attached to a string, the end of which is held while it is repeatedly spun out and reeled in

  2. US and Canadian slang a stupid person, esp one who is easily manipulated

verbyo-yos, yo-yoing or yo-yoed (intr)
  1. informal to change repeatedly from one position to another; fluctuate

  1. informal changing repeatedly; fluctuating

Origin of yo-yo

from Filipino yo yo, come come, a weapon consisting of a spindle attached to a thong

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012