Yahoo (Gulliver's Travels)

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The term Yahoo was coined by Jonathan Swift in the fourth section of his satirical novel Gulliver's Travels.

The Servants Drive a Herd of Yahoos into the Field by Louis John Rhead, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The original character[edit]

Yahoos are legendary beings in the novel Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Jonathan Swift, whose behavior and character representation is meant to comment on the state of Europe from Swift's point of view.[1]

Swift describes them as being filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver, who finds the calm and rational society of intelligent horses, the Houyhnhnms, greatly preferable. The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with "pretty stones" they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term "yahoo" has come to mean "a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person".[2]

Later mentions[edit]

American frontiersman Daniel Boone, who often used terms from Gulliver's Travels, claimed that he killed a hairy giant that he called a Yahoo.[3]

Yahoos were referred to in a letter sent by serial killer David Berkowitz to New York City police while committing the "Son of Sam" murders in 1976.[4][5]


  1. ^ Chowdhury, Romana (April 2014). "Swift's Use of Satire in Gulliver's Travels" (PDF). BRAC University: 31–36 – via BRAC University. 
  2. ^ "yahoo". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Did fiction give birth to Bigfoot? by Hugh H. Trotti". Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  4. ^ Bardsley, Marilyn. "David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam". Crime Library. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  5. ^ Killer Book of Serial Killers: Incredible Stories, Facts, and Trivia from ... - Tom Philbin, Michael Philbin - Google Boeken