\ ˈyips How to pronounce yips (audio) \

Definition of yips

: a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (such as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action had a bad case of the yips on short putts

Keep scrolling for more

When do sportswriters use yips?

Who first dubbed an athlete's stress under pressure "the yips"? We're not sure. We also can't say for certain if the plural noun yips has anything to do with yip, a word of imitative origin that functions both as a verb meaning "to bark sharply, quickly, and often continuously" and as a noun meaning "a short bark (as of a dog)." Some theories equate the "yip" sound made by a small dog with the unfortunate habit some athletes have of flinching or "hiccupping" when a steady hand is called for. What we do know for certain is that sportswriters have been using yips since the first half of the 20th century and that it most often appears in golf-related contexts.

Examples of yips in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Even Poeltl — who has quietly shaken his free-throw yips from earlier in the season — was a perfect 2 of 2. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "The triple take: Spurs 110, Pelicans 108," 24 Apr. 2021 The M550i keeps challenging the driver's prompts with unwanted yips and moves. Tony Quiroga, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2021 BMW M550i xDrive Has M5 Envy," 26 Mar. 2021 Spend a starlit winter evening out in hunting country, standing by your vehicle and listening for the yips, yowls, and howls of coyotes. Toby Walrath, Outdoor Life, "Coyote Nation: A Crash Course in Coyote Hunting," 25 Jan. 2021 Baylor with the walkoff field goal after the great montage of the holder having the yips in pregame warmups. Destine Gibson, Dallas News, "National reaction to Baylor’s win over Kansas State: John Mayers was clutch in Bears’ ‘gritty’ drought-ending win," 28 Nov. 2020 Football isn’t a sport where the yips is often discussed. Jeff Miller, Los Angeles Times, "A case of defensive yips? Chargers aim to conquer meltdown demons vs. Raiders," 7 Nov. 2020 Long snapper Kyle Nelson developed a nightmare case of the yips that forced the 49ers to replace him with offensive tackle Justin Skule after the last in a series of wayward snaps. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "49ers’ game review vs. Giants: Backups certainly didn’t play like second-stringers," 27 Sep. 2020 Nelson had several wayward snaps Sunday and Shanahan said Nelson had developed the yips, suggesting his issues weren’t injury-related. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "49ers’ Jordan Reed, Dee Ford could both be placed on IR," 28 Sep. 2020 Matzek’s comeback appearance came a day after the Rockies’ Daniel Bard, who battled his own case of the yips, pitched for the first time since 2013. Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post, "Bud Black proud of how Rockies are handling coronavirus pandemic," 28 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yips.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of yips

1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for yips

origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about yips

Listen to Our Podcast about yips

Statistics for yips

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Yips.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yips. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on yips

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yips

Comments on yips

What made you want to look up yips? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!