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Ope, defined

| Thursday, April 11, 2019

Have you ever accidentally bumped into somebody on the sidewalk and said, “Ope, sorry about that”? Have you ever run into someone’s shopping cart at the grocery store and said, “Ope, I just need to sneak right past you to grab some Ranch”? Have you ever fumbled the handoff while turning in a paper to your professor and said, “Ope, ope, I got it!”? Have you ever looked outside at the three feet of snow blanketing the ground and said, “Ope, would you look at all that?” If you answered “yes” to any of the previous questions, then congratulations: you might be from the Midwest.

What is “ope,” and why does everyone keep saying it?

Particularly popular in the Midwestern region of the United States, “ope” is often used as an interjection or exclamation of surprise. Either used within a phrase or as a stand-alone term, “ope” can be an involuntary reaction for many at both positive and negative events. Sometimes it is almost like saying the word “oops,” but you got too lazy to finish the entire thing. This word is so ingrained into some cultures that is seems like a reflex response more than an actual word. Like saying “um” or “oh,” “ope” is as common in the Midwest as cornhole and corn fields.

Attending college in Northern Indiana should be a hub of Midwestern activity, right?


I was not aware of this word’s existence until I came to college, even though I use it on a daily basis. In case you have not figured it out by now, I am, in fact, from the Midwest. I have met more new people in college than ever before in my life, and it has been a big change. Coming from a town of 5,000 people that talk exactly the same way as me, a lot of things seemed normal until others started pointing them out. My friends from Alabama, California and even Illinois were quick to point out my frequent use of “ope” that I, myself, had never noticed before. All of my friends, everyone in my family and even my coworkers all say “ope” in various scenarios, and I have accepted that as normal. “Ope” could have even been my first word, and my parents might not have even realized. It is just that normal.

I love the Midwest and all the quirks it has, and I hope you understand them a little bit better after reading this article. Ope, I just hit my word count!

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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