What is wrong with yummy?

Yummy ice cream
Justine Linda and Amanda enjoying a yummy ice cream

Over the last few years I have steadily developed a dislike for the word yummy. Just reading the word or hearing it uttered causes a mild distress. This may be similar to prudes or boring old farts who balk at the use of the ‘F’ word or are horrified at the ‘C’ word. How is it possible to dislike a word? What has caused this apparently irrational phobia? Over the last few days I have done some research into the word “yummy” in an attempt understand my condition.

The first line of enquiry centers around my dislike of infantile regression. That is, adults speaking like children, for example “the likkle doggie did a whoopsie in the housy”. There are other examples of child speak that I shy away from for example I have never liked the word pooh I have always preferred to say “shit” although for some reason the American word “poop” is OK. I have a “cock” not a “willy” a stomach not a “tummy” and a mom not a mommy. However, who says that the word yummy is a child’s word? Some online dictionaries say that the word “yummy” is onomatopoeic ie, a word that is an imitation of an actual sound, for example cuckoo, meow, honk, ping or boom. But who makes the sound of “yum” when they are eating? Unless you hadn’t eaten in three weeks and then fell into a vat of melted chocolate nobody would make a sound anywhere near the “yum” sound. Apart from the fact that “yummy” sounds a bit childish, the only strong link between the word yummy and children is the rhyme “yum-yum pigs bum apple pie and chewing gum”.

So, what is the etymology of the word yummy? The word has existed in dictionaries since 1899 and yum-yum as an exclamation of pleasure is recorded since 1878. This is the explanation given in several etymology dictionaries. In Senegal the word for food is “nyami” but that is just a coincidence. The best explanation of the origin of the word yummy is the following. Yummy comes from the ‘Yum’. This word comes from the Sanskrit mantra ‘Yum’ which is said during meditation. It helps to focus concentration on love and good things. The meditator would repeat Yum, Yum, Yum. Those traveling to India in the 1800s picked up on this. So now, if we think something is tasty and good, we think of joy, and say ‘Yum’. There is a you tube video of someone doing the “yum yum” meditation here.  That explanation gives a very pleasant slant on the yummy word and it makes me feel bad about not liking it. By the way the opposite of “yum” is “yuck” maybe this is the Sanskrit version of yin and yang.

Maybe a reason why I don’t like “yummy” is because we grow a lot of produce on our land and I am often scouring internet for recipes. Many food blogs are written by “popcorn assed muthafukas” ie (A person who is lame; in actions, speech, or overall demeanor). By the way, I found this expression on spotify in the lyrics of a song sung by a band called “yummy”. This may seem a little harsh and maybe I am just showing off by swearing but it is very annoying when I am trying to find a recipe and the author is just a middle class basterd who insists on telling everyone about the most trivial aspects of their lives interspersed with lashings of “yummies”, “yum-yums” and “yums”. Don’t they realise that the allotted praise phrases for this type of blog are “simply divine” or “utterly heavenly”. There may be a slight bit of English style class intolerance here, something akin to Arthur Scargill’s hatred of the filofax in the 1980’s.

There is another reason I don’t like “yummy”. The pedantic schoolteacher in me wishes that everyone were not so lazy and would have more imagination when using adjectives. Everything is not just “nice” or “cool”. Get off your mental arse and think of some more descriptive adjectives to describe things. Here are 160 to start with.

Acidic, Acrid, Aged, Amazing, Ambrosial, Appealing, Appetizing, Awesome, Bad, Bitter, Bittersweet, Bland, Brilliant, Burnt, Buttery, Chalky, Cheesy, Chewy, Chocolaty, Citrusy, Cool, Creamy, Crispy, Crumbly, Crunchy, Crusty, Delectable, Delicious, Delightful, Distasteful , Divine, Doughy, Dry, Dry, Dull, Eggy, Enjoyable, Enticing, Excellent, Exquisite, Extraordinary, Fantastic, Fatty, Fiery, Finger, Fishy, Fit For A King, Fizzy, Flakey, Flat, Flavor, Flavorful, Fresh, Fried, Fruity, Full-Bodied, Gamey, Garlicky, Gelatinous, Gingery, Glazed, Good, Gooey, Grainy, Greasy, Gritty, Harsh, Hearty, Heavenly, Heavy, Herbal, Horrible, Hot, Icy, Infused, Juicy, Juicy, Lean, Lemony, Light, Like, Lip, Luscious, Malty, Marvelous, Mashed, Meaty, Mellow, Mild, Minty, Moist, Mouthwatering, Mushy, Nectarous, Nutty, Oily, Oniony, Out Of This World, Overripe, Palatable, Peppery, Pickled, Piquant , Plain, Pleasant, Pleasant Tasting, Pleasing, Powdery, Raw, Refreshing, Rich, Ripe, Roasted, Robust, Rubbery, Runny, Salty, Sapid , Satisfying, Sautéed, Savory, Scrumptious, Seared, Seasoned, Sharp, Silky, Slimy, Smokey, Smooth, Soggy, Soupy, Sour, Spicy, Spongy, Stale, Sticky, Stringy, Strong, Succulent, Sugary, Super, Superb, Sweet, Sweet-And-Sour, Syrupy, Tangy, Tantalizing, Tart, Tasteless, Tasty, Tender, Terrific, Toasted, Tough, Unflavored, Unseasoned, Velvety, Vinegary, Watery, Wonderful, Yummy

If you need to see some of  these words used in sentences or learn how to use them in Spanish. Click here to see help with food adjectives in Spanish

9 Replies to “What is wrong with yummy?”

  1. I hate the word “yummy” for all the reasons you have described. I would like to add the word, “veggie”. I hate this word. It is the epitome of trendy-infantile, jammed down our throats like a serving of canned spinach. We do not say, “fruities”. Why? Because it sounds moronic, that’s why. “Veggies” is a truncated form of vegetables. I suppose it was invented to slide the ‘detested’ food group past adults on any menu or recipe. It isn’t cute; it isn’t fooling anyone. It is an insult to intelligence and should not be used ever again, anywhere. Thank you. -J

    1. I’m with you on this.. I can’t stand the words yummy, yum, tummy, veggies, among others. These words make me think of the dorky mom/dad who thinks he or she is cool by using these so-called cute words…”Vegetables are more fun when we call them veggies!!” It’s the continued dumbing-down & wussification of our society. No, I don’t want a veggie sub!

  2. This blog is absolute drivel, and your absurd sourcing of the the expression Yum is wildly off. You should have stuck with the Sengal history, enslaved Africans in American kitchens as a child care providers.

  3. It’s fine not to like a word, but it’s stupid to try to back up your aversion with fictional etymological origins. “Yummy” almost certainly came to the US from Africa via the slave trade. “Nyam” or “nyami” are words for eat in many slaves’ native tongues, and these slaves were the ones preparing and serving food in the Southern US, so it really doesn’t make sense to dismiss African origins of the word “yummy.” Saying it came from Sanskrit is a real stretch. Western importation of South Asian spiritual practices didn’t take off until the 1900s (really not until Swami Vivekananda’s vist to the US), and and even if folks were somehow bringing “yum” back from India in the 1800s, it definitely wouldn’t have had its current meaning in dictionaries by 1899…

  4. “Yummy” tends to be used for unicorn bagels or whatever Sandra Lee makes. It’s associated with low brow praise from people with low brow tastes. No one ever described the tasting menu at French Laundry as “yummy”.

  5. Hear, hear! Thank you for making this excellent point! Not a fan of most words with the “y” sound added unnecessarily. Fruity: fine. It’s a proper descriptive word. Veggie: NO. Just NO. I know someone who uses “yummy” nearly constantly when they like something, and they will even extend it to non food items such as checks or houses. Makes me nauseated every time. Carry on!

  6. Thank you for this article. I detest baby-speak. Yummy, and all of it’s permutations should be literarily and literally (another word I hate due to its butchered context) annihilated.

    I once had the displeasure of staying in the basement of my boyfriend’s Bogan sister’s home and the only way they could mollify their youngest child was to say “I’ll get ya some Nummo! Mmm. Nummo!” The cupboard was devoid of ‘Nummo’ so I volunteered to go the supermarket to buy some (to escape the chaos, primarily.) I looked in every aisle and asked a few workers where the Nummo was kept. I returned empty-handed and told them the supermarket had never heard of Nummo!

    Their distress response? “Cereal, you wanker!” Oh. OK. Sounds really Yummo.

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