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Contraction of you all. Attested since at least 1631. Compare Dutch jullie (originally jij lui (literally “you people”)) for a similar development of a new plural pronoun out of Proto-Germanic *jīz that originally was already plural.
- IPA(key): /jɔl/
- (cot–caught merger) IPA(key): /jɑl/
Audio (Southern US) (file)
- Rhymes: -ɔːl
- Homophone: yawl
- (now chiefly Southern US, African-American Vernacular, Appalachia, Caribbean) plural of
- 1631, William Lisle, The Faire Æthiopian:
- [...] and this y'all know is true, [...]
- 1987, Judson D. Hale, The education of a Yankee: an American memoir, page 3:
- Much later, after dozens of the men had come up to me to shake my hand (with both of theirs) and say "Y'all come back soon, hear? ...
- 2007, Roy Blount, Long time leaving: dispatches from up South, page 117:
- People in the South do indeed seem to be addressing a single person as "y'all." For instance, a restaurant patron might ask a waiter, "What y'all got for dessert tonight?" In that case, "y'all" refers collectively to the people who run the restaurant.
- The form y'all is heard primarily in the Southern United States, and nationwide in AAVE. Recently, the form has begun to be used by other American English speakers as well, though still less commonly than you guys. For other second-personal plural pronouns, see you.
- In the past, y'all was never used as a proper singular, but it may have been used with an implied plural, e.g. "you [and your team]", "you [and your coworkers]", "you [and your family]". Due to a cultural shift in the United States by non-Southerners using the word, it is now rarely also used as a singular you, although most (increasing) non-Southern / non-AAVE use is, like Southern and AAVE use, plural.
- Notwithstanding its etymology, the all in y'all is merely a plural marker, not a quantifier. Thus, just as us may refer either to some of us or all of us in standard English, y'all may refer either to some of y'all or to all [of] y'all.
- Y'all is not considered informal speech, but is also not considered formal -- You all would, to a few, be considered more formal, but is not required in formal situations nor is it encouraged.
- See Thesaurus:y'all
- y'all's (possessive)
- all y'all (definitely plural)
- y'all two, y'all three, etc
plural of you
- (transitive, intransitive, informal) To use the pronoun "y'all" (to).
- 1971, Frank Deford, There she is: the life and times of Miss America:
- She blithely maintained that she could have smiled magnolias and "y'alled" her way out of any tight spots.
- 1990, Paul Levy, Finger lickin' good: a Kentucky childhood:
- With his swarthy complexion and jet black, straight hair, Louis was actually quite dashing. He wore his expensively cut clothes and heavy rings well, too. Besides his short stature, his most noticeable peculiarity was that he had a voice like Lytton Strachey's, which moved alarmingly, in the middle of a sentence, or sometimes halfway through a word, from a booming bass to the high-pitched, almost whistling soprano of a boy whose voice has not yet broken. As he y'alled and drawled ...
- 1997, Terence Sieg, Golf travel's guide to the world's greatest golf destinations: the ultimate resource for the discriminating golfer:
- Indeed, non-Southerners may feel themselves "y'alled" to death down here, yet even the most stony- faced New Englander will be charmed by the warmth of the Cloister's staff. The tradition of service is simply better and more deeply entrenched in the South than in any other region of the United States.
- The group spoken or written to.
- Have y'all ladies finished eating?
- (especially African-American Vernacular) Your pl; y'all's
- I need y'all help for a minute.