MENOMINEE, Mich. – “Yooper:” you’ll soon be seeing that word in the dictionary.
We’ve known it forever, but now Merriam-Webster is adding yooper to its 2014 edition.
The definition of yooper is a native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – used as a nickname.
“I am proud to be a yooper,” said Becky LeRoy.
LeRoy is from Menominee, Mich. When FOX 11 asked her about the word yooper she said it means, “A simpler way of life, a simpler way of living. They’re good old fashioned people. Good values.”
The same can be said by people who aren’t U.P. natives but now consider the area home.
“They’re wonderful people and will do anything for you, great neighbors. A yooper is just an honest hardworking individual,” said Murray McMurray, who has a home in Grand Marais, Mich.
Being a yooper isn’t just a word. It’s really a way of life in the U.P. and yoopers love celebrating their culture.
It took more than a decade for a man named Steve Parks of Gladstone to get the word in the dictionary.
“Getting this in the dictionary means a lot to people. It gives us a unique identity and so we’re just delighted it happened,” said Parks.
And it seems like a number of people agree.
“It does give us an identity. We’re not a as much Michiganders as we are a yooper and we’re definitely not cheeseheads. So it’s a nice thing; it’s a pride thing,” said Todd Schloegel of Menominee, Mich.
FOX 11 asked a number of people but we couldn’t find anyone that didn’t like the word.
University of Wisconsin-Marinette English professor Jennifer Flatt has a simple explanation for that.
“Words can have different meanings depending on whether they’re used to celebrate a culture or whether they’re used to put a culture down. The majority of people who use the word yooper use it to celebrate the culture and the history and the love of nature,” said Flatt.
Next time you hear the word yooper and forget what it means, soon you’ll be able to find it somewhere in between the words yoo-hoo and yore. The new edition of Merriam-Webster will be available in April.