I'm so glad you asked this question, as it's once or twice crossed my
mind but I've never actually got round to looking for an answer until
It seems there is a link of sorts with Swift's yahoos, although the
name wasn't inspired by actually reading "Gulliver's Travels" itself,
but came from the dictionary explanation of "yahoo".
Yahoo! (the exclamation mark is part of the name!) was named by its
founders David Filo and Jerry Yang who tired of calling it "David and
Jerry's Guide" soon after its beginning in 1994. So they reached for a
dictionary . . .
There are quite a few variations on the "How Yahoo! got its name"
story as you'll see in the excerpts below. Let me start with a speech
founder Jerry Yang made in 1997:
"We were at Stanford for about a year, and our website project at the
time was known as David and Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web. Had
we turned that into a commercial effort, I'm sure we wouldn't have
gotten any venture capital funding.
One night David said that he was sick and tired of having his name on
this thing. We looked in the dictionary and chose Yahoo! because of,
surprisingly, the literary roots. It's a group of very uncivilized and
rude people from Gulliver's Travels. We were certainly uncivilized.
So we thought Yahoo! fitted well with what we were doing. It was
irreverent, it was reflective of the "wild, wild West" nature of the
Internet, and a lot of people found the name easy to remember, which
we thought was probably good. "
Speech by Jerry Yang - July 29, 1997
Next two excerpts from the Yahoo! site:
"The name Yahoo! is supposed to stand for "Yet Another Hierarchical
Officious Oracle," but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name
because they considered themselves "yahoos", characters from Swift's
Gulliver's Travels who were rude and uncivilised."
"The name Yahoo! is an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious
Oracle," but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they
liked the general definition of a yahoo: "rude, unsophisticated,
The History of Yahoo
"Jerry Yang and David Filo originally created the Internet portal as a
Stanford University thesis project in 1994, calling it "David and
Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web."
Not satisfied with the clunky title, they thumbed through the
dictionary for words that began with "ya," the universal computing
acronym for "yet another." Filo stumbled upon "Yahoo," fondly
remembering that his father used to call him "Little Yahoo" as a boy.
They liked the name and rigged a more complete acronym: "Yet another
hierarchical, officious oracle."
"They didn't go to a naming company," said Yahoo spokeswoman Diane
Hunt. "They just went through Webster's dictionary."
For the record, the standard definition of yahoo is "a member of a
race of brutes in Swift's Gulliver's Travels who have the form and all
the vices of humans." The secondary definition is decidedly
unprofessional: "a boorish, crass, or stupid person."
"At that time [...] it was popular in the computer industry to name
products beginning with the wording, Yet Another
, for example, he
says, there was a Unix software program called YACC (Yet Another
Computer Compiler). Accordingly, Filo and Jerry decided to look for a
suitable acronym starting with the letters YA... and hit upon the
word YAHOO for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. Filo and
Jerry also liked the word yahoo because it is in common parlance as
an exclamation of joy (such as one might utter on finding a sought-for
site on the Web) and had the dictionary definition of an uncouth or
crude person as derived from Jonathon [sic] Swifts novel Gullivers
"Originally it was called "Jerry and David's guide to the World Wide
Web", but after randomly scanning pages in a dictionary for a smarter
sounding name, they came up with Yahoo. Yahoo is actually an acronym
for "Yet another Hierarchical Officious Oracle". The acronym
represents the fact that Yahoo seeks to be a directory or hierarchy
that serves as an oracle to the modern day office dweller who is
"When Gulliver came across that race of brutes known as Yahoos during
his travels to fantastic lands, who could have guessed that one day
that name would be worth $200 billion on Wall Street? Coined by
Jonathan Swift in his masterly 1726 satire Gullivers Travels, the
word has come a long way in its nearly 300years to becoming one of
the best-known Internet addresses in the world.
Picked in 1994 by David Filo and Jerry Yang for their newly incubated
brainchild, Yahoo! according to the Yahoo! Web site, Filo and Yang
chose it because they liked what the word representedsomeone uncouth
and unsophisticated. However, they later explained that the name was
an acronym for Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle. One has to
wonder whether their company would have been as successful if it had
been named, say, Acme Internet Solutions."
"Dear Word Detective: A friend of mine told me that "Yahoo," the name
of the web directory, actually means the same thing as "bozo." Is this
true? Why would they name their web site after a word that means
Hard to say. At first I suspected that the name "Yahoo" might be a
subtle putdown of the site's users (as in "you'd have to be a yahoo to
need us") until I realized that no one would be crazy enough to try to
beat Microsoft at the customer humiliation game. The story I heard
when Yahoo! (the exclamation point is part of their trademark) started
up way back in 1994 was that the name stood for Yet Another
Hierarchical Officious Oracle. But the Yahoo! web page now says that
the name was chosen because the site's two founders, David Filo and
Jerry Yang, "considered themselves yahoos." If that's true, they may
be the world's richest yahoos."
I hope this answers your question, but please just ask if I can help
Best Wishes - Leli
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Yahoo began 1994
yahoo filo OR yang gulliver's OR swift's