don't be yellow!

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Roi Marphille, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    I've just learn by a Seinfeld episode that "yellow" may mean "coward".
    I didn't know it! is that AE?
    What's the story???
    thanks in advance
  2. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    English (American)
    The Straight Dope on yellow and cowardice:
    See the link for more.


    P.S. Which Seinfeld episode was it??
  3. Roi Marphille

    Roi Marphille Senior Member

    Catalonia, Catalan.
    hey thanks for the explanation plus interesting link!

    I'd like to add the lines of the Seinfeld episode here but it is not allowed by the WR rules. Anyway, the episode is the number 19th from the 3rd Season, title: "The Good Samaritan".
    This link leads you to read all the script: I really like Seinfeld!!!
  4. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    I speak AE and I've only heard the phrase a couple of times. It's not commonly used based on what I hear. I think people would understand it, but probably not say it :)

  5. TrentinaNE

    TrentinaNE Senior Member

    English (American)
    Speaking as someone 30+ years your senior, it may also be generational. ;) But I did read that there was some concern that the term might be considered disparaging toward Asians, so perhaps it is not used as much as it once was. Also, "yellow-bellied coward" was something you'd hear in Western films, and those aren't being made much these days either.

  6. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    We use it in the UK too. It wouldn't have occurred to me it might be offensive to anyone.
  7. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    Entirely possible and probable that it's generational because there's no way I could imagine most/all of my fellow teens saying something like that. Of course, that's based on the teens I know.

  8. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    I agree with Trentina. The only context I've heard it used to describe another person is in an old "Western" film. I've never heard someone say something to the effect of "Ah, don't worry about him. He's just yellow."
  9. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In my youth, yellow was used to label kids who were not up to a dare - it was the adolescent version of cowardy custard.

    The connection with westerns and John Wayne is very strong:
  10. nycphotography

    nycphotography Senior Member

    I do be learnin stuff
    John-Paul Miller, NYC
    Oh come on! My hero used "yellow" all the time!

    Yosimite Sam.

    "Draw rabbit! Wazza matta... ya yellow?"
  11. seosamh

    seosamh New Member

    US/Ireland, English
    We also used it in the playground in Ireland in the sixties to taunt each other; our explanation was that someone who was scared would wet himself and then drop to his belly in the resultant puddle.
    I later discovered (slightly off topic) that Yellowbelly is slang for a person from a county in England called Lincolnshire.
  12. maxiogee Banned

    Surely you mean Yosemite Sam?


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