Definition of yellow ribbon noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

yellow ribbon

 noun
noun
BrE
 
; NAmE
 
 
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(in the US) a piece of yellow material that somebody ties around a tree as a sign that they are thinking about somebody who has gone away, especially a soldier fighting in a war, or somebody taken as a hostage or prisoner, and that they hope that the person will soon return safely Culture The custom comes from a story about a man coming out of prison who asked his wife to tie a yellow ribbon round a tree if she wanted him back. Yellow ribbons were used during the Vietnam War and were later used during the Iranian hostage crisis, the Gulf War, and the war in Iraq. Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree was a very popular song in 1973.
Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak treeIt's been three long years, do ya still want me?If I don't see a ribbon ’round the ole oak treeI'll stay on the bus, forget about us, put the blame on meIf I don't see a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree …Now the whole darn bus is cheerin' and I can't believe I seeA hundred yellow ribbons ’round the ole oak tree.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: yellow ribbon