YOLO – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you on the fence about doing something fun? Maybe you have a conservative personality that keeps you at home more often than not? Some people like to “play it safe” while others take carefree approach. The phrase “You Only Live Once,” or YOLO is often used by those who fall into the latter category believe life is too short to not take risks. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


“You only live once” is a famous saying often abbreviated as “YOLO.” This phrase encourages people to seize the day and make the most of their lives. In other words, YOLO is all about enjoying life to its fullest and not worrying too much about the future. Most people take the phrase as a reason to behave dangerously, while it really means to take chances and live in the moment.

The phrase can also be used more literally to mean that a person only has one opportunity to do something – so they might as well go for it. For example, if you’re considering whether or not to take a job in a different city, you might tell yourself, “YOLO – I should go for it!” Some people use it as a standalone phrase, while others use it as an adjective to describe someone or something. More information can be found in the video (here)

Example Usage

Here are some examples of how “YOLO” can be used in a sentence:

  • I’m going to quit my job and travel the world. YOLO!
  • I know skydiving is dangerous, but YOLO!
  • I’m going to eat that entire pizza. YOLO!
  • I’m going to tell my boss off. YOLO!


Originating in rap lyrics, YOLO entered the mainstream in 2011 after Canadian singer Drake released a song called “The Motto” with the line “You only live once, that’s the motto.” Since then, it’s been used by everyone from celebrities to politicians.

While YOLO can be a fun, carefree way to live your life, it’s also important to be mindful of your risks. After all, you only live once! “YOLO” is most commonly used as a hashtag on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It is also often seen in casual conversations.

Phrases Similar to YOLO

  • “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) means being afraid of missing out on something fun or exciting.
  • “JOMO” (Joy of Missing Out) means enjoying your time even when you’re not doing something exciting.
  •  “Carpe diem”: This Latin phrase means “seize the day.” It is the phrase that “YOLO” is derived from.
  • “Live for today”: This phrase encourages people to live in the present and not worry about the future.

Phrases Opposite to YOLO

  • “Don’t take risks” means be cautious and not do anything that could have negative consequences.
  • “Play it safe,” which means not taking any risks.
  • “Think before you act” means considering the possible outcomes of your actions before you do anything.
  • “Look before you leap” which means to think about something carefully before you decide to do it.

What is The Correct Saying?

The correct way to say YOLO is “YOLO.” Properly phrased is “you only live once”.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say YOLO

There are a few ways that people often incorrectly say YOLO. For example

  • People may incorrectly use “YOLO” as an excuse for poor choices or bad behavior.
  • It is better to put this trip off until later, YOLO, so let me work while I can.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase YOLO

The phrase “You Only Live Once” is most commonly used informally. You’ll hear it frequently used in conversations by friends and family members.

  • Let’s go try that new roller coaster they just opened, after all, YOLO!
  • Why not spend the summer in France this year, YOLO!
  • YOLO, so spend your time doing things you love not things others want you to do.
  • Instead of living a life of regret, get out there and explore, YOLO.

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