Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is in the news a lot recently for allegedly making things up. And if you’ve visited his Twitter page or heard him speak, you might be familiar with another thing he’s made up: his signature trademark word, “jeah.”
It’s often preceded by a hashtag and followed by at least one exclamation point. Sometimes he uses multiple “jeah”s in a row.
Exciting day for me ;))) jeah jeah jeah jeah!!!! I’ll let u guys know later
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) May 6, 2011
Just saw Kung Fu Panda in 3D and I liked it a lot. It was funny gotta go see it! Jeah!
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) May 31, 2011
I hate when u have to wait for a package that u have to sign and they give a time slot from 10 am to 1 pm. Come on! No jeah for the postman!
— Ryan Lochte (@RyanLochte) December 16, 2009
But what does “jeah” really mean?
From how Lochte usually uses it, it’s kind of like a bro-y form of “yeah,” with the added benefit of being excusable as a verbal tic. It’s not ok to say “yeah” in every sentence — you’d just sound weird — but it’s always ok to throw in a “jeah” every now and again.
But listening to Lochte explain, it sounds like “jeah” is so much more than simply “yeah”: “It means almost, like, everything,” Lochte said in 2009. “Like, happy. Like, if you had a good swim, you say ‘jeah!’ Like, it’s good. So I guess … it means … ‘good.’ Jeah.”
Since coining the phrase, Lochte has used capitalism to enhance it. On January 8, 2012, he filed a trademark application for the word. It’s worth perusing: It includes all the objects Lochte wanted to brand with “jeah” and pages 7 and 8 of the filing consist solely of the word “JEAH,” in all-caps.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Lochte the trademark, but Lochte abandoned it on December 10, 2015 after he failed to renew it, according to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s trademark database.
Still, he made good use out of it. For instance, he used it in his short-lived reality television show “What Would Ryan Lochte Do?” And in 2012, Lochte’s sponsor Speedo made a video titled “The Art of the Jeah with Ryan Lochte,” where Lochte expressed the phrase in various cadences to reflect different meanings. “Jeah” can mean everything from “cool” to “The Dow Jones is up 3 points.” (Speedo dropped Lochte earlier today.)
While Lochte still uses “jeah” effusively, it hasn’t caught on with the larger world. It’s a shame because it turns out, it’s pretty useful.
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