See more synonyms for yo-yo 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.
  3. 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

earlier, a U.S. trademark for such a toy (1932); recorded in 1915 as the name of a Philippine toy; of undetermined orig.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for yo-yo

Contemporary Examples of yo-yo

Historical Examples of yo-yo

  • The ships that raided them were the Enterprise and the Yo-Yo.

    Space Viking

    Henry Beam Piper

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for yo-yo


noun plural -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
verb yo-yos, yo-yoing or yo-yoed (intr)
  1. informal to change repeatedly from one position to another; fluctuate
  1. informal changing repeatedly; fluctuating

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for yo-yo

1915, apparently from a language of the Philippines. Registered as a trademark in Vancouver, Canada, in 1932, the year the first craze for them began (subsequent fads 1950s, 1970s, 1998). The toy itself is much older and was earlier known as bandalore (1824). Figurative sense of any "up-and-down movement" is first recorded 1932. Meaning "stupid person" is recorded from 1970. The verb in the figurative sense is attested from 1967.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper