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yummy

noun [countable]

young urban male: a professional man under 30 who is interested in fashionable appearance and is likely to spend money on expensive goods

'According to HSBC, Yummies … are reshaping the retail landscape for luxury goods, thanks to their vanity and penchant for trend-chasing.'

Daily Intelligencer, New York 25th March 2014

In 1994, the word metrosexual was coined as a characterization of men who spend time, effort and money on fashion, appearance and other lifestyle traits conventionally associated with women. 20 years on, and it seems that those guys who at the time would have been kicking a ball around a playground or possibly only just starting to walk, have acquired a demographic of their very own – the yummy.

in an era where the idea of male grooming has become progressively more acceptable and mainstream, the yummy is not as marginal as his metrosexual counterpart

Yummy – a playful acronym of young urban male – describes a male professional who is typically in their mid to late twenties and therefore considered part of Generation Y (the tech-savvy people born in the late seventies to mid nineties). The key tenet of the yummy is his interest in the body – beautiful moisturized skin, designer clothing and accessories, a toned torso, perhaps even a metabolism cleansed by regular juicing. In short, he's the perfectly groomed young male whose appearance is camera-ready for sharing via social networking, and the foundation for what has been laughingly dubbed the 'Menaissance' – in other words, a society in which interest in luxury goods and fashion is switching gender from women to men.

However, in an era where the idea of male grooming has become progressively more acceptable and mainstream, the yummy is not as marginal as his metrosexual counterpart. He appears to be on the rise, spawning strong growth in purchases of luxury goods and giving a much-needed boost to the global economy. Economically-speaking, the yummy is therefore far more significant than his forerunner, effectively turning the metrosexual cliché into a commercial reality.

Background – yummy

The new use of yummy as an elaborated acronym of young urban male was coined by market analysts working for international bank HSBC, who in a recent report predicted that the future of retail was tied up with this particular demographic. Use of the term is often viewed as a 21st century equivalent to the word yuppy, an acronym of young urban professional which was coined in the early 1980s to refer to a not dissimilar concept, but now appears dated and is only used in retrospective description. However one way in which the yummy differs from the yuppy is his preoccupation with fashion and appearance, something which the word yummy conveniently implies thanks to its other informal use as an adjective meaning 'sexually attractive' (compare, e.g. yummy mummy).

Yummy is the latest example of a recurring trend in word formation during the past few decades in which acronyms are coined to refer to economically-significant demographics. Curiously, these expressions always seem to have pejorative overtones. They also turn out to be pretty ephemeral, bursting onto the scene in a flurry of media interest and fizzling out relatively soon afterwards. No one, for instance, talks about DINKYs anymore (an acronym of dual income, no kids yet which popped up during the economic boom of the 1980s to describe young, upwardly-mobile professional couples). Since BuzzWord's inception in 2003, we've seen various others come and go, such as tireds (Thirtysomething Independent Radical Educated Drop-outs), FUNT (financially untouchables), kippers (kids in parents pockets eroding retirement savings) or, at the other end of the spectrum, SKI-ers (older people who spend the kids' inheritance). One such acronym which seems to be proving more enduring (sadly perhaps due to a reflection of the economic climate), is NEET, standing for not in employment, education or training.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 8th July 2014.

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