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"sensational chauvinism in the media," 1898, American English, from newspaper agitation for war with Spain; originally "publicity stunt use of colored ink" (1895) in reference to the popular Yellow Kid" character (his clothes were yellow) in Richard Outcault's comic strip "Shantytown" in the "New York World."
Old English geolu, geolwe, from Proto-Germanic *gelwaz (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German gelo, Middle Dutch ghele, Dutch geel, Middle High German gel, German gelb, Old Norse gulr, Swedish gul "yellow"), from PIE *ghel- "yellow, green" (see Chloe).
Meaning "light-skinned" (of blacks) first recorded 1808. Applied to Asiatics since 1787, though the first recorded reference is to Turkish words for inhabitants of India. Yellow peril translates German die gelbe gefahr. Sense of "cowardly" is 1856, of unknown origin; the color was traditionally associated rather with treachery. Yellow-bellied "cowardly" is from 1924, probably a rhyming reduplication of yellow; earlier yellow-belly was a sailor's name for a half-caste (1867) and a Texas term for Mexican soldiers (1842, based on the color of their uniforms). Yellow dog "mongrel" is attested from c.1770; slang sense of "contemptible person" first recorded 1881. Yellow fever attested from 1748, American English (jaundice is a symptom).
"to become yellow," Old English geoluwian, from the source of yellow (adj.). Related: Yellowed; yellowing.
Inflammatory, irresponsible reporting by newspapers. The phrase arose during the 1890s, when some American newspapers, particularly those run by William Randolph Hearst, worked to incite hatred of Spain, thereby contributing to the start of the Spanish-American War. Newspapers that practice yellow journalism are called yellow press.
Cowardice; poltroonery; excessive timidity: Most often in the expression ''yellow streak'' or ''streak of yellow'': I'm afraid he has a streak of yellow in him (1896+)Related Terms
[the origin of the coward sense is unknown; perhaps it is derived fr the traditional symbolic meanings of yellow, among which were ''deceitfulness, treachery, degradation, the light of hell'']