In the November
1997 issue I discussed acronyms, and this has prompted jeneric of North
Sydney to question the origin of "yuppie". Doesn't it derive
from "Young Upwardly-mobile Professional Person", rather than
from "Young Urban Professional + p + ie", as given in my column?
Actually the former
interpretation is the one I myself would have quoted, had I not checked
(in the 1990 Macquarie Dictionary of New Words). I suspect, too, it’s
what 90% of people at any dinner party would say. Now that jeneric has
raised it, I've researched this whole matter further — in Nigel Rees' Why
Do We Say . . . ? (1987), the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd
ed. 1989), the Oxford Dictionary of New Words (1991), and the Macquarie
Book of Slang (1996).
Between them, these
five tools give all sorts of fascinating ancillary info — such as
examples in print dating back to 1982, extensions like "Yupspeak"
and "yupmobile", as well as the crucial explanation of how the
confusion probably originated.
All concede that,
although strictly speaking its derivation is "urban
professional", “yuppie” has too long been interpreted as
"upwardly mobile professional/person/people" for that meaning to
be discounted. According to the Oxford Dictionary of New Words,
first (1982-4) "yuppie" competed with the form "yumpie"
(which included the "m" of "upwardly-mobile"), but
this form was perhaps too close to the verb "yomp", with its
military route-march associations, to succeed.
So it looks as
though counter-gravitational movement is here to stay, even to the extent
of these analogous creations:
(= black . . .)
(= gay (US)/green (UK) . . .)
(= well-off older person)
(= greying leisured affluent middle-aged).
After the ’87
stock-market crash, however, a reaction inevitably set in, and we got
things like "yuffie" (= young urban failure), and the one
jeneric is partial to, "puppy" (= previously upwardly . . .).
offered another acronym that's new to me but apparently a favourite with
travel agents booking cruises, "lolita", which stands for
"Little Old Lady In Trendy Area".