The History of YOLO! You Only Live Once

History of Yolo. You Only Live Once.

Where did YOLO come from?

Have you ever uttered the phrase “you only live once” (YOLO)? If so, you’re not alone. The catchy acronym has been featured in rap songs, on TV shows, and even in scientific journals. But where did YOLO come from? And what does it mean? Keep reading to learn the history of YOLO – and find out why some people are questioning its meaning.

The philosophy has been around for centuries

YOLO – you only live once – is a philosophy that has been around for centuries, but it only entered the mainstream lexicon relatively recently. The term “carpe diem” (seize the day) was popularized in the early 1800s, when it was used in the works “Letters and Journals” by Lord Byron. In the 20th century, YOLO began to be used more frequently as a rallying cry by young people who wanted to live life to the fullest.

18th-century English novelist Samuel Richardson wrote, “And it teaches me to be covetous of time; the only thing of which we can be allowably covetous; since we live but once in this world; and when gone, are gone from it forever.” In other words, cherish your time wisely, because once it’s gone, you can never get it back. So make every moment count.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1774 play Clavigo. Goethe used the phrase “man lebt nur einmal” (“you only live once”) as a way of cautioning his characters against living impulsively and regretting their actions later. Nearly a century later, in 1855, Johann Strauss II borrowed the phrase for the title of a waltz.

The phrase has been used by Frank Sinatra, in a 1937 film called You Only Live Once. Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart also claims to have begun using the term in the 90’s after buying a ranch in Sonoma on a whim and telling his wife, “You only live once!” They later started referring to the ranch as YOLO.

Where is "YOLO" today?

In recent years the phrase has taken on a new meaning. As we face down the threats of climate change or war, more and more people are recognizing that YOLO philosophy is not about partying hard and taking risks—it’s about making the most of the time we have. This shift was already underway before the Coronavirus pandemic hit, but the events of the past few years have only served to accelerate it. In 2022, YOLO is no longer just a catchphrase—it’s a call to action. And as more people wake up to its power, YOLO!

If you’re looking for a fun way to celebrate life, we suggest picking up a bottle of Yolo Rum. This delicious spirit is made with premium ingredients and has a flavor that will make you feel like you’re on vacation in the Caribbean. Whether you drink it neat or use it to add some extra zing to your favorite cocktails, Yolo Rum is sure to put a smile on your face.

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