Definition of yips
: a state of nervous tension affecting an athlete (as a golfer) in the performance of a crucial action <had a bad case of the yips on short putts>
Did You Know?
Who first dubbed an athlete's stress under pressure the yips? We're not sure. We also can’t say for certain if this plural noun has anything to do with the singular yip, a word of imitative origin 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 1962 and that it most often appears in golf-related contexts.
Origin and Etymology of yips
First Known Use: 1962
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