: 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

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When do sportswriters use yips?

When it comes to sports, yips happen. We’re not sure who coined yips; we also can’t say if this plural noun has anything to do with the singular yip, a word of imitative origin that refers to a dog’s sharp bark. What we do know is that the yips have sported their name since at least the 1930s, and that the term first appeared in golf-related contexts. Anxious for similar language? Perhaps you’re familiar with twisties, a term popularized in 2021 during the Tokyo Olympic games when gymnastics GOAT Simone Biles suffered from an affliction akin to the yips in which gymnasts experience a mental block causing loss of spatial orientation. Twisties doesn’t yet meet our criteria for entry, however, so we’ll have to bench it for now.

Examples of yips in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Evan Grant joined the conversation to talk about Brett Maher and kickers suffering from the yips, Saturday Night Live and also who didn’t return his calls this week. Dallas News, 18 Jan. 2023 But legal light had been over for a while, and the maniacal howls and yips of coyotes were all around me. Will Brantley, Field & Stream, 9 Jan. 2023 Often, athletes who encounter the twisties or yips must go back to basics and carefully relearn the skills that trigger it. Brianna Barbu, Discover Magazine, 6 Aug. 2021 Then there’s Josh Hader, a four-time All-Star and one of the elite shutdown arms of the last decade … who caught a case of the Rick Ankiel-throwing yips to the plate and bases with a 16.20 ERA in Padres brown to prove it. Bryce Millercolumnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Aug. 2022 The Rockies got the yips with two outs and Kwan at the plate. Joe Noga, cleveland, 16 June 2022 The moment the sun dipped below the ridge, the assembly let out a feral chorus of yips and howls. New York Times, 20 July 2022 Bard, 37, conquered the yips and has pitched well for the Rockies the last three seasons and has become a team leader. Peter Abraham, BostonGlobe.com, 2 July 2022 Soon, the operating room is full of healthy yips as the baby dogs — two boys and one girl — get acquainted with the world. People Staff, PEOPLE.com, 11 Apr. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'yips.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


origin unknown

First Known Use

1935, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of yips was in 1935


Dictionary Entries Near yips

Cite this Entry

“Yips.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yips. Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

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