In Michigan, when we are surprised, sorry, or confused we utter one word without even thinking about it: OPE. 'Ope, pardon me', 'Ope, 'scuse me', 'Ope, didn't see you there'. But have you ever wondered where the term came from and how it became a daily utterance for Michiganders?

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Is 'Ope' an abbreviation, slang, or a word all its own created by socially awkward Michiganders who specialize in half-smirk greetings and fake jogs when someone holds a door for us? Let's explore three possible origins of the Mitten's involuntary saying.

Theory #1: The Origins of Ope, Michigan's Involuntary Phrase - Short for Open

The first appearance of 'Ope' in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was entered in 1275, appearing to be a shortened version of OPEN:

That is open, not closed (esp. of an eye, door, or window); (also) revealed, manifest. Chiefly predicatively and as postmodifier. In later use poetic…

While Michiganders are known to utter 'Ope' when someone is holding a door for them and they start fake jogging (moving your arms faster while your feet stay at a normal speed) towards it, but using this as an origin is a stretch at best. Let's move on to the next theory.

Theory #2: The Origins of Ope, Michigan's Involuntary Phrase - We Added a 'P' to 'Oh'

According to an article published in the Oshkosh Northwestern and quoting Todd Van Luling, another theory for Ope's origin is that we added a letter to another common phrase: 'Oh' and turned it into 'Ope' by adding a P. Sound crazy? We've done it before...

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'Nope' is the perfect example. By adding a 'P' to 'No', we ended up with 'Nope'. Could that be how Michiganders came to say 'Ope'?

Theory #3: The Origins of Ope, Michigan's Involuntary Phrase - It Came from the Brits

This theory is my least favorite. Michiganders and Midwesterners alike lay claim to 'Ope' BUT, it's not even exclusive to this country. It turns out that the British use the term as well, in the same way as we do here in Michigan. They spell it 'Oop', but it's pronounced the same as 'Ope' just with a British accent thrown in for good measure.

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Not knowing the exact origins of 'Ope' shouldn't stop you from using it (as if you had a choice). 'Ope' away, Michigan!

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