\ 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

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 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 The Jazz are like a golfer with yips right now: their mind is preventing them from doing the things their bodies can do. Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 Apr. 2022 Nor were there coyote yips or wolf howls piercing the night air in anticipation. Steve Meyer, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Mar. 2022 With the yips gone, the first-half goals must come if the U.S. want to win in the next window. Drake Hills, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2022 Bando’s favorite example: When one of the Chinese pitchers suffered his own battle with the yips, Matzek would spend time helping him through bullpen sessions. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2021 The yips, Kuhn believes, develop similarly — a subconscious tension that surfaces every time the ball leaves the hand. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2021 Kuhn hadn’t devised a structured program to fix the yips specifically until a mutual friend — former Middle Tennessee State and Rockies catcher Michael McKenry — connected him and Matzek four years ago. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 29 Oct. 2021 This story and Helene Elliott’s excellent column explained what has to be the second scariest version of the yips (diving has to be the worst). Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times, 29 July 2021 See More

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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Last Updated

23 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Yips.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yips. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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