WlLDMAN of Australia. Usually equated with the Yowie, the term that displaced it in the 1970s, though Graham Joyner considers Yahoo to be a more authentic name and discounts late-twentieth-century reports.
Etymology: Australian word for "devil" or "evil spirit," according to James Holman. In the Snowy Mountains region of Victoria, the Aborigines refer to a songbird, the Gray-crowned babbler (Pomatostomus temporalis), as the Yahoo. Place-names (Yahoo Peak, Yahoo Valley) occur in areas where the Yowie is said to exist. Another source claims that escaped convicts from Botany Bay used to steal food by rushing into camps shouting "Yarhoo!" and scaring away the Aborigines.
Aborigines may have picked up this term from white Australians, possibly deriving it from Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, first published in 1726, in which he described a fictional race of primitive men. (Isaac Asimov has speculated that Swift got the name from the Yagua people of Peru, known in Swift's time as wards of the Jesuits.) The term could be transferred to any more primitive race, including the Aborigines themselves. Joyner has pointed out that in 1814, an Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) was exhibited in London as "the Great Yahoo or Wild Man of the Woods."
Variant names: Boorong, Debil-debil, Devil-devil, Yaahoo, Yah-hoo, Yahor, Yahu. See also Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, Yeho.
Distribution: Queensland; New South Wales; Tasmania.
Sources: James Holman, A Voyage Round the World: Including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, etc. (London: Smith, Elder, 1834-1835), vol. 4, p. 480; Sydney Morning Herald, July 12, 1843, p. 2; Moreton Bay (Queensl.) Courier, February 6, 1847, p. 4; Frank Chapin Bray, The World ofMyths (New York: Crowell, 1935), p. 232; Frank Cridland, The Story of Port Hacking, Cronulla and Sutherland Shire (Sydney, Australia: Angus and
Robertson, 1950); Graham Joyner, The Hairy Man of South Eastern Australia (Kingston, A.C.T., Australia: Graham Joyner, 1977); Graham Joyner, "The Orang-Utan in England: An Explanation for the Use of Yahoo as a Name for the Australian Hairy Man," Cryptozoology 3 (1984): 55-57; W. S. Ramson, ed., The Australian National Dictionary (Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 195-196, 198, 754.
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