The title is misleading; YARK does not really have a meaning. When I put it on the license plate of my VW bus, back in-- oh, 1987-- I was required to define yarkfor the Department of Motor Vehicles. Here's what I said:

YARK is an exclamation of surprise or joy.

In earlier days, I emitted "yark" during times of exhilaration, such as running along a beach at night next to the crashing surf. (This was back when I lived in San Francisco.) After a while, yark made its way onto the bumper of the VW bus, then the license plate, and finally to my e-mail address. Now, it's really more of a habit.

Others have proposed that the true origin of yark is from the book Watership Down, in which it is a common exclamation of the seagull Kehaar. I did read that book several years before the origin of yark in my life, but the connection is, at best, subconscious.

Maria Yark of New Zealand writes:

I have to tell you that YARK really has a meaning. It is a normal Russian word and means magnificent. Our family traced our ancestry and we came from the Vikings up in Scandinavia. We are spread out over Europe, not that many though, originally I come from the Netherlands.

Marian Grebanier of Oregon writes:

Noticing your email address...Yark. When I lived on this large collective in Tennessee called The Farm, many years ago, there was a really fun practice we had. Someone, feeling the need, would step outside and yell really loud " Yaaaark!" and anyone within earshot would pick it up and yell Yark, too. Then another would do the same and the yark would spread over a big distance....over a mile. "I hear a yark coming my way!"
last update 8 January 2003

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