English is a remarkably rich and colorful language, yet most of us use only a tiny fraction of the vocabulary available to us on a day-to-day basis.
Wonderful words like marplot and knuckleduster have fallen by the wayside, as have such terms as jubilarian and gleg.
One of our greatest losses, however, is in the category of truly inspired exclamatory verbiage.
When was the last time you heard someone boldly exclaim “Huzzah! Huzzah!”?
Probably more than a week ago, I’d guess.
Today we content ourselves with grunts, groans and exclamations like “Well, duh!” and “Duuuude!” along with the occasional “Doh!” (the latter exclamation popularized by that great American icon of underachievement, Homer Simpson.)
And, of course, there’s that increasingly popular but vulgar four-letter word that begins with ‘F’ and can be interchangeably used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb or gerund, even by loudmouths who don’t know the difference between an adverb and an aardvark.
You’ve got to admit, we’re in a collective exclamation rut here.
Let’s face it, amigos, it’s time to shake up the ant farm and expand our vocabularies. There are all kinds of once-popular but temporarily forgotten exclamatory expressions of glee, exuberance and excitement out there just waiting to be revived for use in the 21st century.
Yoicks, for example.
Hey, is that a great exclamation or what? Yoicks is what it says and says what it is – a word filled with joy, spirit and flat-out enthusiasm sure to get you knowing nods of approval every time you speak it.
Originally a 19th-century British fox-hunting cry, yoicks achieved brief popularity in the United States among the horsy set and a select group of Prohibition-era tipplers following World War I and then faded back into obscurity.
It’s time to blow off the dust and bring yoicks into the mainstream again.
Yoicks is an expression that can do so much more than simply annoy foxes.
Whether you’ve just watched the ’49ers almost score a touchdown, found a coiled rattlesnake in your toaster oven or gotten your mechanic’s bill for a “simple” tune-up, responding with a hearty “Yoicks!” is always in good taste and so much more expressive than “Doh!” or “Oh, maaaaaan!”
Yoicks has power in and of itself and can give those who utter it the upper hand in a variety of chancy and complex situations.
The next time a bourbon-fueled brawler challenges your right to sit at your favorite bar stool, back him down with a no-nonsense “Yoicks, fellow! You’re harshing my mellow!”
You can bet that troublemaker will think twice about messing with you…
Attorneys, too, will be sure to adopt this remarkably versatile exclamation to bolster during courtroom arguments:”Yoicks! I object, your honor!”
See what I mean?
Not only powerful but quite persuasive on a number of levels.
The time is now, amigos. Let’s all pledge to exclaim yoicks at least twice a day until it catches on and enriches our language again.
Yoicks. Say it loud and say it proud…
Originally published February 19, 2006