What Does YOLO Mean in a Text?

YOLO means "You Only Live Once."

YOLO is an acronym that means "You Only Live Once." It is typically used as a justification for doing things, such as taking a risk (e.g., doing a bungee jump), treating yourself to an extravagance (e.g., buying an expensive holiday), or doing something foolish (e.g., slamming back-to-back Jaeger bombs, or partying the night before an exam or important work meeting).

YOLO is often referred to as "Carpe diem for stupid people." (Carpe diem is Latin for "seize the day.") Both YOLO and Carpe diem imply you should enjoy life in the moment, even if that means overriding common sense.

The saying YOLO received a lot of attention in 2012, when Canadian Rapper, Drake, who had used YOLO in a number of songs, complained on Instagram (under his username champagnepapi), that retail giants Macy's and Walgreens were selling clothing emblazoned with YOLO without his consent. He posted "Walgreens . . . you gotta either chill or cut the cheque," underneath a photo of baseball caps with YOLO printed on them. He also posted, "Macy's . . . same goes for you," under another photo of a t-shirt with a picture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the words "YOLO is my motto." It is unclear whether Drake's posts were a serious attempt to claim YOLO as his own, or if he was just trolling.

Image for YOLO

When I write YOLO, I mean this:

meaning of YOLO

"You Only Live Once." (And it'll probably be for less time than most people.)

Summary of Key Points

"You Only Live Once" is the most common definition for YOLO on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
Definition:You Only Live Once
Type:Acronym and Abbreviation
Guessability:guessability level 2
2: Quite easy to guess
Typical Users:typical user

Adults and Teenagers

Examples of YOLO in Sentences

Here are some examples of YOLO being used in sentences:
  • I'm putting my week's wages on Dobbin to win the derby. YOLO.
  • (Here, YOLO is justifying a risk.)
  • I'm whacking the credit card and flying first class to Dubai. YOLO.
  • (Here, YOLO is justifying an extravagance.)
  • Sleep is for weaners! Mr. Barman, the next round is on me. Set 'em up! YOLO.
  • (Here, YOLO is justifying a foolish act.)

An Academic Look at YOLO

When YOLO is expanded to "You Only Live Once," it is a declarative sentence. However, it is most commonly used like an independent clause, meaning "because you only live once," which serves as an adverb of reason.

YOLO is an acronym (i.e., an abbreviation spoken like a word). Acronyms differ from initialism abbreviations, which are pronounced using their individual letters (e.g., the intialism LOL is pronounced "Ell Oh Ell").

Example of YOLO Used in a Text

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