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Yooper Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary [Video]

Jampot is a bakery operated by the Roman Catholic Church-affiliated Society of St. John in Eagle Harbor on the Keeweenaw Peninsula in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. (Photo: Michigan Sea Grant)

The loving term for our above-the-bridge brethren is now officially a word.  

So, what was it prior to this?

Also added: poutine, selfie, catfish (the verb) and fracking, among others.

The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary added 150 words to its latest edition, as well as its online data base this week, and many of them are high tech and social media-related.

Selfie, for instance, the habit of taking your own photo on your smart phone, finally gets in to the big book, as well as its lesser know variants like shelfie, which are photos taken of your shelf (huh? who does THAT?) and stealthies, which are fake selfies intended to capture a photo of something behind the subject.

But for Michiganders, the big addition is the term Yooper, defined as a nickname for a resident of the Upper Peninsula.  

The term was first seen in print in Michigan in 1975, but it wasn’t until four years ago when it had its big coming out in The New York Times.

Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told the Associated Press: “This word is fun to say and has a fun origin, from U.P. It’s just the kind of word that many people are likely to hear and remember – and look up in the dictionary, plus it’s just a really colorful word.”

While we in Michigan have known about Yoopers for a long time, others are mystified by the term, including this writer for Mediaite, who calls Yoopers crazy and says he always thought it was spelled “UPers”.

Steve Parks, a born and bred Yooper, who these days doubles as a prosecutor in the U.P.’s Delta County, has been the instigator behind getting the word into the dictionary.

“People up here, we really do have our own identity and our own culture,” Parks told The AP. “We’re a really hardy bunch. We love the land, we love the lakes, we love hunting, we love fishing. You have to be very resilient to live up here.”

Among the other words making their debut in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary this year:

Catfish (not the fish but the person who takes on a false online identity, a la the phantom girlfriend of football pro Manti Te’o); poutine, a French Canadian snack or side dish of french fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds; steampunk, a literary genre with dress-up followers that mashes up 19th-century Victorian or Edwardian societies with steam-powered technology; unfriend, which joins defriend; and hot spot, a place where wi-fi is available.



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