COLLECTOR: “So what’s the difference between ‘yike’ and ‘yikes’?”
INFORMANT: “Asking that’s a little yike, isn’t it?”
C: “Sure, but it’s for the archives.”
I: “Alright. Well… ‘yikes’ is just the word, right? Like you say it whenever—whenever something kind of bad happens. But ‘yike’ is more specific. You only say ‘yike’ to people who know what it means.”
C: “And what does it mean?”
I: “I mean, it’s like ‘yikes’ but for, um, like, cringey things, not just any bad stuff.”
C: “Can you give an example?”
I: “Um, like if we were sitting here and overheard someone say something kinda racist or sexist—especially if we knew he said a lot of kinda racist or sexist things, like, regularly—I might turn to you and raise my eyebrows and say ‘yike.’ I guess.”
C: “So there’s a context of an ‘in’ crowd required to say ‘yike’?”
I: “Sure. I don’t really know if anyone other than our friends use it. But, um, yeah, there are definitely like ‘yikey’ people we all know about.”

This piece of folk-speech was shared by a high-school friend of mine whom I called him to ask if he could think of any folklore from or our time in together. The slang exclamation “yike” and its associated adjective “yikey” came up. As his explanation of the term suggests, like a lot of folk-speech, its precise definition proves difficult to nail down, seeing as using it relies heavily on the participants in the conversation and the conversation’s context. Generally, ‘yike’ seems to be used by my informant’s group of friends heavily involved in social justice, to respond in a sarcastic manner to people who are slightly racist, misogynist, or just less-informed than them about social issues. Thus, saying ‘yike’ not only comments directly on something, but establishes a bond of recognition and respect between those saying it, who are aware enough to point out when others are acting or speaking unthoughtfully.