The YOLO meaning is “You Only Live Once”. It is an acronym which is often used as a hashtag on Twitter (#YOLO) to emphasize an exciting event, or used as an excuse for irresponsible or outlandish behaviour. However, its tone is such that people who use the word YOLO often use it in a sarcastic way, or indeed it can be used in a way that pokes fun of those who use it as an excuse for that outlandish behavior.
You may of heard of the phase “Carpe Diem”, well the YOLO meaning is a sort of teen version of this, but as well as the noble idea of living life to the fullest, the new meaning of Yolo has more of a focus on the brash decisions and their consequences.
When should you use the new YOLO meaning
The following are ok uses:
Getting super drunk at this party, mixed two drinks I probably shouldnt have #YOLO
Eating an entire pizza because I am hungry #YOLO
The following, I wouldn’t recommend for fear of looking stupid, as in the following examples, there is nothing extraordinary or abnormal about it:
Walking down the street to my friend’s house, such a long walk #YOLO
Eating Chipotle while watching Inception #YOLO
Origin of our new Definition of Yolo
March 20th 2004: Adam Mesh from the third season of the NBC’s reality show the Average Joe launched a clothing line centered on the meaning of YOLO following its use on the show.
April 6th 2004: Yolo definition submited to The first Urban Dictionary.
November 10th, 2005: The term “YoloSF” was used for a promotional website yolosf.com for a New Years Eve event. The website is still up, so feel free to take a look.
July, 2006: The Strokes launch a campaign called “Operation YOLO” prompting their fans to rquest their single “You Only Live Once to be played on radio stations:
June 1st, 2007: Life Coaching Site ‘Yolo Coaching’ was registered.
March 14th, 2008: JCVdude, a well known youtuber uploaded a video outlining his philosophy of living life to the fullest, titled ‘YOLO “you only live once” JCV’:
October 4, 2009: A blog post titled ‘Friends….. YOLO – You Only Live Once.’ was published by a well known blogger called Weather Underground.
July 27th, 2010: Cafe Press website had a infant bodysuit submitted with ‘YOLO You Only Live Once’ printed on the front.
December 16th, 2011: American actor, Zac Efron was pictured with a “YOLO” tattooed on his right hand.
Widespread use of the new YOLO Meaning
October 23rd, 2011: Canadian recording artist Drake posted a tweet “You only live once… YOLO along with a picture of himself on a balcony”. This is probably the main reason why YOLO is now so popular on twitter today, with significant usage increase just one day after. One other reason I think it became popular at this time, rather than in say 2004 is because Twitter hashtag trending is so popular now. I think perhaps if the same use of YOLO in a video happened in 2004 it would not have become so widespread.
November 29th, 2011: Just one month after the tweet, Drake launched his song:
The relevant lyrics being:
“Now she want a photo, you already know, though
You only live once: that’s the motto nigga, YOLO”
And ever since then, the new YOLO meaning has been a widespread and ever increasing term.