1Now usually in plural. Either of two North American migratory sandpipers, Totanus flavipes (more fully "lesser yellowlegs") and T. melanoleuca (more fully "greater yellowlegs"), having long, thin, dark beaks, long yellow legs, and a grey-brown body with dark markings and pale underparts. Occasionally: †a yellow-legged domestic fowl (obsolete).
T. flavipes and T. melanoleuca are also called yellow-legged sandpiper and yellowshank.
2US informal, historical A cavalryman in the U.S. army; especially one in the Confederate army. Also in plural in same sense.
The name derives from the yellow stripe on the side of the trousers worn by U.S. cavalrymen.
3North American informal, historical A member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Also in plural in same sense.
The name derives from the yellow stripe on the side of the trousers worn by Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Late 18th century. From yellow + leg.