Y is for…

YetiWell, September is in full swing. School is in session. And before long, the leaves here in Ottawa will put on the best show of the autumn. Then winter will be back. I’m not sure how I feel about that, so to distract myself, I’d like to offer the next instalment in my Vocabulary Series. Astoundingly, we are at the second last letter of the alphabet, the yummy letter Y.

This time, I’ve chosen three nouns with diverse origins. The first I chose because its original meaning is quite different from how we think of it today.

Yacht (noun)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1550s as yeaghe, meaning a light, fast-sailing ship. Comes from the Norwegian or early Dutch jaght, which both come from the Middle Low German jacht, meaning to chase or hunt. It’s a short form of jachtschip, which was used to describe a fast pirate ship, and literally means a ship for chasing. Jacht comes from jagen, meaning to chase or hunt, which in turn comes from the Old High German jagon, which comes from the Proto-Germanic yago–, which can be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European root yek–, all meaning to hunt.

Definition:   A light sailing boat; a power-driven boat equipped for sailing or cruising.

Example:   “Oh no! Captain Evilbeard and his dread pirate yacht are gaining on us.”


My second word choice is something I eat regularly. But I knew nothing about its origins before today.

Yogurt (noun)

Etymology:   First appears in the 1620s. The English is a mispronunciation of the original Turkish word yogurt, in which the g is soft and would sound more like a w in English. The root yog means to condense, and it is related to the words yogun, meaning intense, yogush, meaning liquefy, and yogur, meaning knead.

Definition:   A semi-solid and somewhat sour food made from milk fermented by added bacteria. Also spelled yoghurt and yoghourt.

Example:   “Captain, if we throw the barrels of yogurt overboard, we might be able to outrun him. But then we’ll be out of breakfast foods.”


And I couldn’t pass up my final word choice. I find it fascinating how we have embellished its original meaning.

Yeti (noun)

Etymology:   First appears in 1937. Comes from the Tibetan yeh-teh, meaning small manlike animal.

Definition:   A hairy manlike or bearlike creature said to live in the highest part of the Himalayas. Also known as an abominable snowman.

Example:   No one knew for sure, but legend has it that the yeti fell in love with Evilbeard’s beard. Whatever its motivation, the yeti saved the lives of our entire crew that day.


As always, etymological information and definitions come from a combination of the Oxford Dictionary of Etymological English, the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Image credit: InsignificantYeti @ deviantART

4 thoughts on “Y is for…

  1. Yacht, yogurt and yeti are very interesting words. Yacht always makes me think of a wealthy man’s boat,yogurt is very common in our home we use it to cook, drink as a beverage and also eat it plain. Yeti I heard it but not so much. All three words are excellent,thank you Suzanne

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