Spinnin' Around

Don't let your vocabulary skills yo-yo! National Yo-Yo Day is June 6th, so after you practice your "walk-the-dog," learn these terms related to the metaphor "yo-yo" — having a tendency to make progress, only to regress shortly after.

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Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. yo-yo
    a toy with a spool that is reeled up and down on a string
    Her own 45-pound weight loss after years of yo-yo dieting is what prompted her to get certified as a personal trainer and start the channel.Los Angeles Times (Jan 27, 2018)
    The yo-yo is a metaphor for the behavior of falling back into old habits. In a more innocent time, calling someone a yo-yo was also an insult, equivalent to calling them a lunkhead.
  2. relapse
    go back to bad behavior
    New research suggests that a blood test five years after breast cancer treatment may help identify some women who are likely to relapse, long before a lump or other signs appear.Seattle Times (Dec 8, 2017)
    Relapse describes falling back into patterns or a returning to a previous state of ill health. Although technically it means “fall into a former state,” one would never say that he “relapsed into happiness” or that the former millionaire who lost it all and then regained it “relapsed into a fortune”. It is the “fall” part of the definition that is crucial here — someone who relapses is at a lower state than they were.
  3. regress
    go back to a previous state
    One minute, she is exploring her world with wide-eyed wonder, and the next, she seems to be regressing into a baby.Washington Post (Feb 20, 2018)
  4. renege
    fail to fulfill a promise or obligation
    The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore says Uber and Grab reneged on a promise to brief it fully on the details of the transaction before the deal was announced.New York Times (May 28, 2018)
    More of a conscious choice than sliding down the slippery slope of relapse, renege is a verb meaning to “deny, renounce, abandon.” To renege on a former promise means that expectations collapse like a slack yo-yo string.
  5. retrograde
    moving or directed or tending in a backward direction
    But the current staffers and the former employees said the atmosphere was retrograde and often disrespectful toward women.Washington Post (Feb 17, 2018)
    Retrograde is a celestial word appropriate for the world of yo-yo-ing bodies. The word can mean going backwards metaphorically speaking, and implies a reversal or lack of progress.
  6. recidivism
    habitual relapse into crime
    The Mental Health Specialty Court Act of 2017 became law Aug. 1 and aims to reduce recidivism rates using “evidence-based practices of supervision, policies, procedures and practices.”Washington Times (May 29, 2018)
    Recidivism is a term used to describe repeatedly committing illegal or immoral acts. English adapted this word from French which took it from Latin recidivare, “to relapse into sin.”
  7. mercurial
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    Impatience drives his best work; the mind that enters ours when we read him is mercurial, impassioned, indignant, hilarious, voluble and always interesting.The Guardian (May 26, 2018)
  8. perigee
    the nearest point in an orbit around the Earth
    The lunar event was heralded as the #SuperBlueBloodMoon because the moon is near its perigee, or the closest point in its orbit to the Earth, according to EarthSky.org.Seattle Times (Jan 31, 2018)
    A circling, spinning yo-yo most resembles a planet moving around the sun, or the moon in orbit around Earth. Perigee refers to the point in at which the orbiting object is closest to the object it is spinning around.
  9. apogee
    the farthest point in an orbit around the Earth
    The great apogee, the farthest distance from Earth, will minimize obstruction and interference from our planet.New York Times (Mar 26, 2018)
    Apogee refers to the point where the orbiting object is farthest from the thing it spins around.
  10. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    But his erratic driving was spotted by an officer who started to follow him.Seattle Times (May 31, 2018)
  11. wayward
    resistant to guidance or discipline
    Trying to get wayward young people back on a positive path is a laudable goal.Washington Times (Feb 21, 2018)
  12. revert
    go back to a previous state
    And the concern is that he might not believe the changes made are yielding better results and revert to his old, comfortable ways.Seattle Times (May 30, 2018)

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