YOLO [YO-low]: An acronym meaning "You only live once." Meant to elicit a carefree attitude, willing to take chances.
Also, the subject of an essay question to get into one of the best universities in the country.
Tufts University in Medford, Mass., is asking applicants to answer three essay questions. The first two deal with why prospective students are applying to Tufts and how their background defines them. Then they give applicants a choice of six essay prompts, one of which involves "YOLO":
The ancient Romans started it when they coined the phrase "Carpe diem." Jonathan Larson proclaimed "No day but today!" and most recently, Drake explained You Only Live Once (YOLO). Have you ever seized the day? Lived like there was no tomorrow? Or perhaps you plan to shout YOLO while jumping into something in the future. What does #YOLO mean to you?
(Yes, they include the hashtag.)
"This question was submitted by a member of our incoming first-year class and was one of six essay choices designed to give students a chance to tell us about themselves," Tufts spokesman Alexander Reid told The Huffington Post. "The spirit of the question is quite serious, as it asks students to consider a concept that people –- from Roman philosopher of antiquity Horace to contemporary Grammy Award-winning Canadian rapper Drake -– have been thinking about for thousands of years."
Lee Coffin, dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Tufts, admits he has an affinity for pop music. Coffin is encouraging applicants to have some fun when they introduce themselves to Tufts.
"Oh yes, we did. Quakers, Virginia Woolf, nerds, an ancient Roman, Drake, a principle of physics and the Red Sox (at least by inference) all wiggled their way into one of our essay questions," Coffin wrote in a blog about the admissions essay. "YOLO."
Colleges seem to like to ask weird prompts in application essays, like the University of Chicago's 2002 question, "How do you feel about Wednesday?" or "You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit Page 217," as the University of Pennsylvania has asked for 20 years. Tufts asked applicants in 2009 "Are we alone?"
Which brings us to the evolution of YOLO, courtesy of The Black Sheep Online:
On July 4, 2006, The Strokes released a song titled "You Only Live Once," propelling the phrase into pop culture. Or at least, into the vernacular of people that listen to The Strokes. The song is the first track on their third album First Impressions of Earth. When it was released as a single, The Strokes asked their fans to request the song on radio stations and place the track in their MySpace profiles. They named the plan Operation YOLO.
A restaurant opened in Fort Lauderdale, Florida named YOLO. We just thought that was interesting.
October 31, 2011:
"The Motto," a hip-hop song by Drake featuring Lil' Wayne, premiered on this day. Most people attribute today's use of YOLO to Drake's lyrics. "The Motto" sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone and debuted at #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The lyrics include: "Now she want a photo, You already know though, You only live once: that's the motto ... YOLO." Thanks for the tip, Drizzy.
November 1, 2011
A group of obnoxious California teenagers, along with some Jersey Shore wannabes, immediately adopt YOLO as, you guessed it, their motto.
November 20-something, 2011:
YOLO really starts bouncing around Twitter and eventually becomes a trending hashtag across the nation. It usually accompanied tweets that should have made any responsible friend and/or Twitter follower call the cops and/or a medic.
Zac Efron embraces the trend and gets "YOLO" tattooed on his right hand. He claims it has always been his personal mantra. Yeah. Attracted to ink? He also has a feather on his right bicep! Yeah.
The trend starts to get out of control. Somewhere, in some college town, a frat boy said to another frat boy "Let's just skip the gym today bro, YOLO." And the second frat boy said "That's not funny."
The phrase officially isn't cool anymore. In fact, it's so uncool that hipsters everywhere are adopting the phrase. For example, a hipster might take those generic beach tank tops with "YOLO" stamped on them and rip them up and tie them around their heads. You know, to protect themselves from the sun and whatnot.
(h/t The Hairpin)