RE "whup" - "whoop"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 28 21:27:09 UTC 2005

On 11/27/05, Dennis R. Preston <preston at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Dennis R. Preston" <preston at MSU.EDU>
> Subject:      RE "whup" - "whoop"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This (w)hu~oop bidness is indeed complicated. These seem to be the
> players:
> Chiefly Southern US, "whup," almost certainly a Scottish version of
> "whip," is pronounced with both /hw/ and /w/ and with both the CUT
> vowel and the BOOK vowel. The latter pronunciation perhaps gives rise
> to the temptation for "oo" spellings, which some of us have found
> odd. I certainly do. I can get the BOOK vowel from "u" spellings
> (e.g., "butcher"), but I admit the list of "u" spellings for BOOK
> vowels seems short.
> The potential confusion with "whoop" is obvious, although the
> spellings and pronunciations of this item are most curious. It
> appears to be Middle English, from Old French "hopper" with a similar
> meaning to today's "yell." But this French "h" word was often
> rendered as "wh" (look at what happened to OE "whore"!). It seems to
> me, however, that the ME "wh" spelling rendered all three
> possibilities (/w/, /hw/, and /h/) in modern pronunciation (is this
> the only example?). Even though I am a good /hw/-er, I am tempted to
> give this item the /h/ pronunciation in "hoopin' and hollerin'" from
> an alliterative attraction. Of course, the usual reduction of /hw/ is
> to /w/, and I have indeed heard all three possibilities in "whooping
> crane" and "whooping cough."
> dInIs, whose spellings are clear
> 1) I whup guys littler'n me
> 2) I whoop it up when I am in a joyful mood (and even when I am
> "/hupIn/ and hollerin'," my spelling is still "wh."
> 3) I shoot hoops
> I have great sympathy for those whose phonologies are not so well
> tuned to their orthographies.
> --
> Dennis R. Preston
> University Distinguished Professor
> Department of English
> Morrill Hall 15-C
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing, MI 48824-1036 USA
> Office: (517) 353-4736
> Fax: (517) 353-3755

The word from the OED –

[a. F. *houpe-r* (in 12th c. *huper*), f. *houp*, imitative of the cry: see

*n.*2 ? Cf. OE. *hwópan* to threaten, OHG., Goth. *hwôpan* to boast,

from which some derive the Fr. vb.
q.v.) is a later spelling,

after *who*: cf. *whole*.]
1340-70* *Alex. & Dind.* 167 Whan [th]ei hurden [h]is houp, hastiliche aftur
A lud to a litil boot lepus in haste.

And then there's German _hupen_, as in  _Nicht hupen!_  "No


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