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.

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

n.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.

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