Yea, yeah, yay


"I think our national symbol should be the turkey. Yea or nay?"

“Our national symbol should be the turkey. Yea or nay?”

Today we’re learning about how to spell and use some confusing Y words: yea, yeah, and yay.

Yea means yes. It is the oldest of the three words, with its first-known use coming before the twelfth century. Now we mostly see yea when reading about voting. For instance, when posed a question, a group may be asked to answer yea (yes) or nay (no). Note that yea rhymes with the word hay.

Example: “Should we have hot dogs for lunch?” the mother asked. “Answer yea or nay.”

Yeah is a slang word that also means yes. Yeah is much newer than yea, however, having come into existence in the 1860s. In terms of spelling, yeah and yea are often confused. Remember that unless you’re writing about a public vote, you’ll want to use yeah.

Example: He asked if I wanted to go on a date and I said yeah.

Yay is often used as an interjection to express excitement and approval. It has the same meaning as yippee or hooray. It appears to have evolved from the word yea and is pronounced the same way.

Example: Yay! We’re going to the zoo!

Team vs. teem


team (noun): a number of persons associated together in work or activity
teem (verb): to become filled to overflowing

You are, no doubt, familiar with the noun team, but the same-sounding verb is less popular. Today’s post will help you use and spell it correctly.

Here are examples of both words:
The zombies worked as a team to capture the humans.
The city is teeming with zombies.

The zombies’ deadened brains teemed with thoughts of carnage.
The team of humans couldn’t fight back the zombies.

Both words are related to the Old English word team, which means “offspring, lineage, group of draft animals.” Interestingly, an archaic usage of teem is to “give birth to,” a usage that seems more aligned with its Old English origin.

Fill in the blanks with either team or teem.

1. The golf course is _______ing with tees.
2. The baseball history museum _______s with photos of old _______s.
3. My favorite baseball _______ is the Minnesota Twins.
4. The wrestler’s heart _______ed with thoughts of winning the match.


1) teem 2) teem; team 3) team 4) teem

Okay! OK! O.K.! Ok?

You are, no doubt, familiar with OK. These two strung-together letters have made one of the world’s most commonly used words. Today we’re going to learn the origin of this universal term for all right, sure, and fine and which of its various spellings are correct.

OK started as a joke. In 1839, it was a trend for newspapers in Boston to use initialisms that represented misspelled phrases. For example, there was K.G., which stood for know go (instead of no go), and N.C., which stood for nuff ced (instead of enough said). This is how OK entered the language. Newspapers of the time used it to stand for oll korrect, a jokey version of all correct, funny because the spelling was the opposite of being all correct.

And then came this mutton-chopped fellow:

When President Martin Van Buren was running for reelection in 1840, his fundraising group in New York was named the O.K. Club. In this instance, OK also referenced his nickname Old Kinderhook (which came from his birthplace in the New York village of Kinderhook). Van Buren lost, but the word gained popularity.

Spellings of OK
OK was originally spelled with periods, looking like this: O.K. Today, it is more common to see it spelled as OK (without the periods) and okay. If you look it up in the dictionary, you will see either OK and okay listed as correct spellings of the word or all three versions: O.K., OK, and okay.

Style guidelines are largely fuzzy on the issue of one preferred spelling. For instance, The Chicago Manual of Style doesn’t even acknowledge the issue. However, The Associated Press Stylebook lists OK as the preferred spelling. The most important point is to pick one spelling and stick with it throughout your writing to maintain consistency.

However, note that spelling the word with lowercase letters (ok) is not, well, OK. I mean okay.

American Heritage Dictionary online:

Chicago Manual of Style online:

Online Etymology Dictionary:


“Veteran drudge” of The Baltimore Sun newspaper, John E. McIntyre, recently blogged a list of slang words for being drunk:


Lots of S words, apparently.

But what about slang for the opposite end of the imbibing spectrum?

teetotalism: the principal or practice of complete abstinence from alcoholic drinks

teetotaler: one who practices or advocates teetotalism

It’s a common mistake to think that teetotaler has to do with tea—as if one who does not consume alcohol hits up the teakettle instead. Actually, this term dates to the age of temperance societies (groups that pushed for mandatory abstinence from alcohol), with its first citation being in 1834.

As explained in the Online Etymology Dictionary, it is thought that teetotaler comes from the word totally. The tee in the front of the word is the sound of the letter T and was added for emphasis—as if to mean extra totally or totally totally.

Example: That teetotaler is extra totally BO-RING.

What decimate really means

If you are reading this from your underground doomsday bunker, I thank you for taking the time from your end-of-the-world preparations to read my humble blog. Yes, today is the day some people decided the ancient Mayans predicted would be the end of the world. So, in the spirit of all things apocalyptic, I thought we should talk about epic disasters—more specifically, the word decimate.

What do you think when you hear the word decimate? Bridge-swallowing earthquakes? Nuclear wastelands? Robot overlords?

Decimate has come to mean near-total destruction, but that’s not the technical definition of the word. Decimate comes from the Latin word decem, which means ten. Thus, decimate means to reduce something by a tenth. Merriam-Webster lists the first definition of decimate as: “to select by lot and kill every tenth man of.”

Destroying a tenth of something is still some serious carnage, but I doubt it matches the type of destruction most people now identify with the word. However, that’s okay. The meaning has changed over time, where it now can mean anything from a storm knocking down every tenth tree to robot overlords exterminating all of humankind.

And just in case this is my last post, I’ll leave you with this—an introduction to your new leaders. Good luck in the apocalypse, suckers.