\ 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

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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 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.

Examples of yips in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Regardless: There has been no sign of the chip yips this winter. Michael Rosenberg, SI.com, "There Is Only One Tiger Woods," 3 Apr. 2018

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.

First Known Use of yips

1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for yips

origin unknown

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Cite this Entry

“Yips.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yips. Accessed 7 Jun. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on yips

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yips

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with yips

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