Phrases, Clichés, Expressions & Sayings
~ Y ~

Yadda Yadda
Meaning: Using filler words (verbal replacement for "etc., etc.").
Origin: The expression Yadda Yadda came through a complex series of "filler" words thought to imitate many people talking (yatata yatata), plus an influence from Yiddish (yatta yatta; yaddega yaddega). The Yadda Yadda version was established in American vaudeville routines as early as the 1940s. It was introduced to a wider number of show business audiences twenty years later by comic Lenny Bruce in a monologue featuring the character of a prison riot leader, who answers "Yadda Yadda" to every question put to him. But the launch into international recognition came in April 1997 when scriptwriters Peter Mehlman and Jill Franklyn included Lenny Bruce's "Yadda Yadda" expression in an episode of the Seinfeld show, in which the term became a comic fixture for some time afterward. Thanks to Max Cryer.

Yankee Doodle
Meaning: A popular song of patriot troops during the Revolutionary War.
Origin: Legend has it that during the French and Indian War, the shabbily dressed troops of Colonel Thomas Fitch of Norfolk, Connecticut inspired a British army surgeon with musical talents, a Dr. Sheckburgh (or Shackburg) to write the derisive song “Yankee Doodle.” The story is recounted in the Federal Writer's Project Connecticut (1938): “According to local tradition, Elizabeth Fitch, on leaving the house to bid goodbye to her brother (Colonel Fitch) was dismayed by the ill-sorted costumes of the 'cavalry.' Exclaiming, “You must have uniforms of some kind,” she ran into the chicken yard, and returned with a handful of feathers announcing, “Soldiers should wear plumes,” and directed each soldier to put a feather in his cap. When Sheckburgh saw Fitch's men arriving at Fort Crailo, Rensselaer, New York, he is reputed to have exclaimed, “Now stab my vitals, they're macaronis!”, sarcastically applying the slang of the day for fop, or dandy, and proceeded to write the song - which instantly caught popular fancy.” There is no firm proof of this theory about the origin of the song, which ironically came to be a popular song of patriot troops during the Revolutionary War (there are said to be hundreds of verses to the song). Before the Civil War, the tune, identified with New England, was often hissed off the stage in the South.
Source: “Word And Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson.


Yellow journalism
Meaning: Sensational articles.
Origin: Yellow has been used to describe sensational books and newspapers in the U.S. since 1846, the 'yellow' referring to the cheap yellow covers some sensational books were rapped in. Yellow journalism was first used in 1898, when the phrase was applied to the sensational stories that appeared in Hearst's New York Journal and Pulitzer's New York World about Spanish atrocities in Cuba.
Source: “Word And Phrase Origins” by Robert Hendrickson.


Yellow rose of Texas
Meaning: Texas folklore.
Origin: The yellow rose of Texas, which is part of the state's folklore and even has a famous song written about it, originated in the 1830s on a farm in New York City near the present-day Pennsylvania Station. A lawyer named George Harrison found it as a seedling growing among other roses on his property and began cultivating it. Settlers soon took the yellow rose west with them, and legend has it that Texans finally claimed it as their own when Mexican general Santa Anna, the villain of the Alamo, was distracted by a beautiful woman with yellow roses in her hair.
Source: Stephen Scanniello, rosarian of the Crawford Rose Garden in the New York Botanical Garden.

Yes man
Meaning: One who unfailingly agrees with whomever he/she wishes to please.
Origin: This expression was first noticed in print by Thomas Aloysius Dorgan (known as "TAD"), American sports writer, cartoonist, and purveyor of colourful and new language. In 1913, a published drawing of his showed a number of newspaper employees, each one labeled "Yes man," all eagerly agreeing with their editor. After this, the term went into wide usage. Thanks to Max Cryer.


You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink
Meaning: You can encourage, but not force, someone to do something.
Example: Bill lead his horse to the banks of a cool, fresh spring but the stubborn horse wouldn't drink.
Origin: This expression was first used in the 12th century, when riding a horse was the main way of traveling long distances. A horse owner knew that an animal needed a drink of water, especially after a long ride on a hot day. For centuries that truth has been applied to people who do what they want to, even though you try to persuade them otherwise.


You can't take it with you
Meaning: Whatever you gain in your life, you can't take it with you when you die.
Origin: This expression is in the Bible: "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6-7). It reappeared more colloquially when expressed in Captain Marryat's Masterman Ready (1841): Masterman was a bachelor, of nearly sixty years, without any near relations. It is true, that he was very fond of money; but that, they said, was all the better, as he could not take it away with him when he died. A contemporary version came when American writers George Kaufman and Moss Hart opened their play You Can't Take It With You in New York (1936). The play won a Pulitzer Prize the following year and its title became part of everyday speech. Thanks to Max Cryer.


You're no spring chicken
Meaning: You're not young anymore; you're past your prime.
Example: George Walsh is no spring chicken, but he certainly knows the cruise industry.
Origin: Until recent generations, there were no incubators and few warm hen houses, which meant that chicks couldn't be raised during winter. New England growers found that those born in the spring brought premium prices in the summer market places. When Yankee traders tried to pass off old birds as part of the spring crop, smart buyers would protest that the bird was 'no spring chicken.'


Your level best
Meaning: To do as best as you can under the given circumstances.
Example: Without a hi-speed ADSL internet connection, Barry did his level best to keep up with all of the latest groaners @!
Origin: "Level" refers to an underground seam (or level) found in a mine - originally referring to 19th century California gold mines.


Your name is mud
Meaning: Someone who is unpopular.
Example: If Jack doesn't pay for the support of his child, his name is mud.
Origin: This phrase comes from an 1823 slang dictionary - 'And his name is mud!', used at the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader. The phrase appears to be one of the many that, when a news story arises, match the jist of a story and later become associated with it.

Alternative: John Wilkes Booth broke his leg while escaping after shooting Abraham Lincoln. He was given medical help by Dr Samuel Mudd, who didn't then know about the assassination. Mudd was wrongly convicted of being Booth's conspirator. Actually the phrase was in wide circulation before Mudd was defamed (Mudd was born in 1830).

Send your additions, corrections/typos or new phrases/clichés to
Back to Clichés/Phrases Main Index
The Ultimate Phobia List - Real and Imagined - Newest


Sea Girl

Lifeguard Distancing

Merry Go Motorbike

Build Back Better - Season 2

Build Back Better - Season 1

Zamboni Date

Bagpipe Runners

9 Months On The Inside

Noah Called

The Mighty Stegosaurus

Get A Dog They Said

Are You Ready?

Down Day

Peddle Sewing Machine Sink

You Never Call
Full list of creditsFacebookTwitterDiggStumbleUponDelicious