yak shaving

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search



Coined by Carlin Vieri in his time at the MIT AI Lab (1993-8)[1] after viewing[2] a 1991 episode of The Ren and Stimpy Show featuring "Yak Shaving Day," a Christmas-like Holiday where participants hang diapers instead of stockings, stuff rubber boots with coleslaw, and watch for the shaven yak to float by in his enchanted canoe.


yak shaving ‎(uncountable)

  1. Any apparently useless activity which, by allowing you to overcome intermediate difficulties, allows you to solve a larger problem.
    I was doing a bit of yak shaving this morning, and it looks like it might have paid off.
  2. A less useful activity done consciously or subconsciously to procrastinate about a larger but more useful task.
    I looked at a reference manual for my car just to answer one question, but I spent the whole afternoon with my nose buried in it, just yak shaving, and got no work done on the car itself.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Jeremy (2000-02-11), “Yak Shaving”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[1], retrieved 2014-02-02
  2. ^ Vieri, Carlin (2008-06-05), “Talk:yak shaving”, in (Please provide the title of the work)[2] comment from Vieri.