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YOLO is an acronym based on an aphorism. An acronym is an abbreviation that is formed by taking the initial letters of the words in a phrase and creating a new word that is pronounceable. An aphorism is a short, common saying that shares a universal truth. We will examine the meaning of the term YOLO, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

YOLO is an acronym that stands for you only live once. The term YOLO is often invoked when someone is about to take part in reckless behavior, or less often, when taking a calculated risk. While examples of the term YOLO may be found dating back to the 1960s, its current popularity began with a clothing line of the same name established in 2004. The musician Drake popularized the term YOLO even more when he used it in his 2011 song, The Motto. Though the acronym YOLO is a fairly recently coined word, the aphorism you only live once is a sentiment that is much older, and originally was used as an admonishment to live a righteous life. By the late 1800s you only live once was used as an excuse to enjoy life, a meaning that persists today. While YOLO technically has the same meaning as the phrase you only live once, the acronym YOLO carries the connotation of reckless behavior.


The trick was first landed by Switzerland’s Iouri Podladtchikov, who nicknamed it the YOLO flip. (The Los Angeles Times)

After the interviewer asked Mr Miliband to please not use the phrase, he then turned to his aide and said: “If I said ‘Yolo’ to you, what would you say?” (The Telegraph)