Merriam-Webster adds da 'Yoopers' to dictionary

Da "Yoopers" up dere in da U.P., Michigan's Upper Peninsula, have hit it big with inclusion of their nickname in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and the company's free online database.
AP Wire
May 20, 2014

The moniker for native or longtime residents of the Lake Superior region known for a distinctive manner of speaking and its Scandinavian roots was among about 150 new words announced Monday by the Springfield, Massachusetts, company.

The update of the Collegiate's 11th edition has pleased Yooper Steve Parks, the prosecutor in Delta County, Michigan, who pushed for more than a decade to have the word recognized by Merriam-Webster. Supporters splashed their joy online when news of the higher profile spread in March.

"People up here, we really do have our own identity and our own culture," Parks said by phone Friday. "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."

But really? Is Yooper as recognizable as, say, the Yankees of New England? Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer and editor at large for Merriam-Webster, insists it has crossed from regional to more general usage.

"Plus, it's just a really colorful word," he said.

Many of the other new words and terms stem from digital life and social media — spoiler alert, hashtag, selfie and tweep — while others are food-driven, including pho and turducken, a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey.

Climate change and the environment did not go unnoticed, with the addition of cap-and-trade, a system that limits the amount of carbon emissions companies can produce but allows them to buy extra emissions from others.

Fracking also made it into the update, which has already shipped to retailers. So did e-waste and freegan, one who scavenges for free food in store and restaurant trash bins as a way to reduce consumption of resources.

"It's a young word, from 2006," Sokolowski said of freegan. "It's one of the youngest in this list. This kind of environmentalism was a Lone Ranger type of activity before but has taken off."

Merriam-Webster relies on a network of observers who track down word usage in everything from newspapers to soup can labels. Three or four senior editors make the final cut.

As for social media, well, that term was already in the dictionary, but social networking wasn't. Adding the latter was "just taking care of business," Sokolowski said.

So how does he feel about Oxford Dictionaries making selfie a star last year, when the British company named it word of the year? Did Merriam-Webster wait too long to jump on the selfie bandwagon?

"No, not at all. One of the most important things we have to watch is the trendiness of language, so we don't want to put a word in that will then have to come out," he said. "We want to make sure a word is here to stay."

Selfies have spawned shelfies, which are photos people post to show off their books and how they have arranged them. And we now also have stealthies, those sneaky little phone pictures masquerading as selfies when the taker actually snaps what's behind him or her instead.

Other new words in the popular dictionary and at

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 of french fries covered with brown gravy and cheese curds; steampunk, a literary genre with dress-up followers that mashes up 19th-century societies with steam-powered technology; unfriend, which joins defriend; and hot spot, a place where Wi-Fi is available.

Top 15 words and definitions added to the latest edition of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

Auto-Tune or auto-tune vt (verb transitive) (2003): a proprietary signal processor, to adjust or alter (a recording of a voice) with Auto-Tune software or other audio-editing software, especially to correct sung notes that are out of tune

cap-and-trade adj (1995): relating to or being a system that caps the amount of carbon emissions a given company may produce but allows it to buy rights to produce additional emissions from a company that does not use the equivalent amount of its own allowance

catfish n (1612): (second definition) a person who sets up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes

crowdfunding n (2006): the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people, especially from the online community

dubstep n (2002): a type of electronic dance music having prominent bass lines and syncopated drum patterns

fangirl n (1934): a girl or woman who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something

freegan n (2006): an activist who scavenges for free food (as in waste receptacles at stores and restaurants) as a means of reducing consumption of resources

gamification n (2010): the process of adding games or gameline elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation

hashtag n (2008): a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text, such as a tweet

selfie n (2002): an image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera, especially for posting on social networks

social networking n (1998): the creation and maintenance of personal and business relationships, especially online

steampunk n (1987) science fiction dealing with 19th-century societies dominated by historical or imagined steam-powered technology

turducken n (1982): a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey

tweep n (2008): a person who uses the Twitter online message service to send and receive tweets

Yooper n (1977): a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — used as a nickname




Finally, we get to put a face on Wing & Vlad. (Nice Pic. Barry S.) Hey, why are there copies of GHT posts taped to the kitchen cabinet doors?

Let see(squinting)…Dyankee, Harry Kovaire, TCR, Truthhurts, Newsblogger, Barry Soetoro, Nextdoor, Wolverine, NPL, Vlad, Wing…. Ohhhh, I see, this must be Lanivan’s house. Pheww, mystery solved. Wallpaper in your kitchen Lan? Giggle.

Barry Soetoro

Whenever Lani gets around to having us all over for the Beer Summit I hope to sneak a photo of her bathroom. Local legend holds that it's cleanliness is beyond reproach.


Dyank, ya got to get your eyes checked, its not me. I never drink PBR and I only wear Browning and UnderArmour gear.

Oh, and that's not copies of the Trib on the cupboards at Lan's house. Upon closer scrutiny, it appears to be the principles for Keynesian economics and one article on how to get your groove back while reducing your muffin tops using Pilates.


Now this is funny! I don't know these guys, but I wish I did. They seem much more jovial than you grumpy dudes (ears burning, dyankee?). Wing - how did you know? (About the Keynesian economics, of course, NOT the muffin top..) Barry - the summit is in limbo for the moment, as I negotiate with the City to build a latrine off my garage while they build a new bathroom for me by the boardwalk. As you might imagine, I can not tolerate anything compromising the 24/7 pristine condition of my bathroom (always ready for a photo shoot), which I fear would become a reality with you guys over for a beer summit, if you catch my drift.

Barry Soetoro

No excuses now, L (unless you're waiting for Old Milwaukee to go on sale)...


You can solve anything, Barry! I'm hoping you'll agree to be the Games Meister....we're going to need a resourceful fellow like yourself to declare the winners, losers, etc. I have a feeling I'll be busy running to Strevel's.....

Harry Kovaire


While not specifically expecting or slyly soliciting an invitation, I heard this was a pool party.


Oh, why the heck not, Harry. Just because you insult me at every opportune moment...sure, join in the fun. Of course, there is no pool, just a bathtub and birdbath; Barry has at least a dozen t-shirts for each of us that we will have to wear simultaneously, all at the same time, lest we offend his sensibilities; my neighbor will probably have a word of prayer with us over the addition of the latrine to the landscaping; and Wing once promised to bring some Venison En Croute with Morel Mushrooms, but for all we know it will end up sauerkraut with bratwurst. You guys have a good time. I think I'll be inside reading War and Peace.


Only if I can shoot the venison from your deck which is probably a lot closer to reality then we both know. I promise the neighbors will never know, I'm deadly with a bow and the shot will be a quiet and quick.

The morels are too full of sand in the area so would have to bring my fresh supply.

Don't worry about the latrine, we can just use the bushes and beach grass.


I can see it now. Wing makes a quick and quiet strike with his bow and arrow, targeted at some movement back in the bushes and beach grass. He hears a yelp as the arrow just zings by dyankee taking a latrine break....

Barry Soetoro

I think with this crowd, this could be a very nice money-maker....


HEy now Lan, who you calling grumpy? I'm the jovialiest one on this post. I do believe I'm the igniter of this lighter side set of discussions therefore, eliminating the preverbal burning of the ears.


I dunno - Could it be your complaining all ready about my light bulbs, and your proposal of bringing the Constitution to the party to read? Really? And that is not being grumpy how....? I suppose I should be grateful you don't bring two mating turtles and give a lecture on the incubation period of a turtle egg.

Oh well, in a spirit of being too tired to give a fig, I'll agree that you're the jovialiest of the jovials, and the igniteriest of the igniters. Let's toast to that!


Never happen Lan. Wing's a Master with identifying targets before firing on them, that's why his success rate is so high...same strategy & results he uses when debating liberals.

Hey Wing, sorry about the mistaken identity with this story's photo. PBR, bwsst, rookie mistake....that is your badger hat though, right?

Pool part eh, Harry? That's funny. Hope Lani lives on a paved road so, your Jag doesn't get dirty. Barry, you bring the Old Milwaukee and I'll bring the Constitution and incandescent light bulbs because I have a suspicion of curly bulbs everywhere in Laniland which will drive me bats. Who's picking up Vlad & TCR?

Tri-cities realist

I will pick up Vlad on my bio-fueled scooter (since I've been told I need to be greener). And I figure the sight of the 2 of us on a scooter will provide a good laugh. I'll make sure Vlad is holding a gas can, lest anyone gets the wrong idea...

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