While innocently passing by on my way to Big Rep City, I happened to overhear (alright! I was dropping eaves) a dialogue in some podunk Commentary Cafe wherein two fellow ELU consumers were debating whether the term “Yuppie” was an acronym or a portmanteau.

Rapidly approaching the status of ‘ancient of days’, the term Yuppie brought me back (kicking and screaming, mind you) to the Eighties and made me long for the good ol’ days---the Sixties, man---when suddenly I had a flashback and the mental fog that is my cognitive life unaccountably dissipated long enough for me to realize that both of these users were wrong. Yuppie was neither an acronym nor portmanteau, but rather, half ‘n' half.

The Eighties term, Yuppie, was in fact, the illegitimate bastard of the unholy union of the acronym Y.U.P. with the late-Sixties to early Seventies term, YIPPIE, which in turn was an appropriation of the last syllable of the Sixties counter-cultural epithet, HIPPIE. And the previous meaning adhered as an echo in each further elaboration. Just as Yippie was a play on Hippie while adopting an antithetical political stance, so too Yuppie is a play on Yippie, yet conceptually antithetical.

Unfortunately at this point my brain-fog returned and the trail went cold so that’s as far back as I was able to follow the breadcrumbs ... so 1) does anybody out there know where those crumbs lead? 2) are there any other terms in current usage that have similar developmental histories?

Edit: An integral facet of my OP relates to the acronym/portmanteau controversy overheard in commentary and referred to above. This part of my question has only received explicit attention in commentary. My position is clearly stated so, 3) will those of you who feel I err please refute my position, citing to authority, in answer form?

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    portmanteau how, exactly? It's not combining the latter half, it is simply adding an "ee" sound to allow the word to sound like a real word; a Yup wouldn't be an easy word
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 12:53
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    I was young, but I seem to remember that HIPPIE and YIPPIE were concurrent developments of the mid 60's. HIP from the Afro slang: modern, sophisticated, and YIP from Abbie Hoffmand's Youth International Party.
    – ScotM
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 12:58
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    If you look it up, you'll find that Yippie was introduce almost simultaneously, if a trifle later, with hippie, in the late '60s.
    – Robusto
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 13:03
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    Young, Upwardly Mobile Professionals should have been called Yumpies, but the 60's won out. Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 13:57
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    Hippy is polysemous, including the acronym of Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters and other meanings along with its "dominant" definition from the 60's. Hippy is also homophonous, including the affectionate diminutive of hippopotamus. Those two issues multiply the ambiguity of every word's semantic field. sites.google.com/a/sheffield.ac.uk/all-about-linguistics/…
    – ScotM
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 3:52

2 Answers 2


It all starts with a little slang hep:

"aware, up-to-date," first recorded 1908 in "Saturday Evening Post," but said to be underworld slang, of unknown origin.

Variously said to have been the name of "a fabulous detective who operated in Cincinnati" [Louis E. Jackson and C.R. Hellyer, "A Vocabulary of Criminal Slang," 1914] or a saloonkeeper in Chicago who "never quite understood what was going on ... (but) thought he did" ["American Speech," XVI, 154/1].

Taken up by jazz musicians by 1915; hepcat "addict of swing music" is from 1938. With the rise of hip (adj.) by the 1950s, the use of hep ironically became a clue that the speaker was unaware and not up-to-date.

Hep grew up with his little sister hip:

in the sense of "aware, in the know" is first attested in a 1902 cartoon by Tad Dorgan,8 and first appeared in print in a 1904 novel by George Vere Hobart, Jim Hickey, A Story of the One-Night Stands, where an African American character uses the slang phrase "Are you hip?".9 Early currency of the term (as the past participle hipped, meaning informed), is further documented in the 1914 novel The Auction Block by Rex Beach:

His collection of Napoleana is the finest in this country; he is an authority on French history of that period—in fact, he's as nearly hipped on the subject as a man of his powers can be considered hipped on anything.10


"informed," 1904, apparently originally in black slang, probably a variant of hep (1), with which it is identical in sense, though it is recorded four years earlier.

The broader culture tasted hip and hep in the 40's:

After the Second World War, the term moved into general parlance, Jack Kerouac for example describing his mid-century contemporaries as "the new American generation known as the 'Hip' (the Knowing)";[11] while in 1947, Harry "The Hipster" Gibson wrote the song "It Ain't Hep" about the switch from hep to hip:

Hey you know there's a lot of talk going around about this hip and hep jive. Lots of people are going around saying "hip." Lots of squares are coming out with "hep." Well the hipster is here to inform you what the jive is all about.

They dumped hep and drank hip with the Beatnicks through the 50's and into the 60's:

: a young person who was part of a social group in the 1950s and early 1960s that rejected the traditional rules of society and encouraged people to express themselves through art

The Beatniks were called hipsters, but they were transformed to hippies when they mainlined their sophisticated, fashionable, up-to-date rejection of the status quo through the 60's and 70's:

The word 'hippie' came from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City's Greenwich Village and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district. The origins of the terms hip and hep are uncertain, although by the 1940s both had become part of African American jive slang and meant "sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date".13 The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and countercultural values of the Beat Generation. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such as cannabis, LSD, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.

Abbie Hoffman launched the Youth International Party on December 31, 1967, and they co-opted the conventional contempt in the hippies monicker by attaching the same derogatory suffix -pies to their acronym YIPpies:

The Yippies had no formal membership or hierarchy. Abbie Hoffman, Anita Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Nancy Kurshan, and Paul Krassner founded the Yippies (according to his own account, Krassner coined the name) at a meeting in Abbie and Anita's New York flat on December 31, 1967.7 "If the press had created 'hippie,' could not we five hatch the 'yippie'?" Abbie Hoffman wrote.4

Eventually, the Hippies and Yippies made babies with all that free sex, but in the 80's, their children rebelled against the counterculture, as displayed in the wildly popular television sitcom Family Ties:

an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 22, 1982 until May 14, 1989. The series, created by Gary David Goldberg, reflected the move in the United States from the cultural liberalism of the 1960s and 1970s to the conservatism of the 1980s.2 This was particularly expressed through the relationship between young Republican Alex P. Keaton (Michael J. Fox) and his ex-hippie parents, Steven and Elyse Keaton.

The "adherents" of this conservative backlash were labeled Yuppies which apparently blended the derogatory suffix -pies from hippies and yippies with the new acronym:

1982, acronym from "young urban professional," ousting competition from yumpie (1984), from "young upward-mobile professional," and yap (1984), from "young aspiring professional." The word was felt as an insult by 1985.

The contracted blend of the acronym YUP with hippie and yippie suggests a classification of portmanteau. The worthy objection arises that attaching a common -ie suffix with the extra p is not actually a blend, but it is my opinion that the shared emotional baggage of these three iconic -pies cemented a unique linguistic bond that transcends a shared suffix--they became the nucleus of a new semantic family of cultural affinity.

So the spaced-out hippie yippies lived happily ever after with the stressed-out yuppies and all their other -pie progeny.




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    +1 Brother, you're blowin' what little mind I got left.
    – user98990
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 14:16
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    So Alex P. Keaton---aka Michael J. Fox---was TV's prototypical Yuppie!
    – user98990
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 14:29
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    This is a great answer (+1) and very informative but it seems to be missing the actual point of the OP. After all this research is yuppie an acronym, a portmanteau or a combination of the two? Is a suffix enough to make it a portmanteau?
    – terdon
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 18:00
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    It is my opinion, that yuppie is the contracted blend of an acronym and hippie/yippie, which classifies it as a portmanteau. Calling it an acronym is a tougher call, but as one who is comfortable drawing outside the lines, I have no problem with Little Eva's designation of "hybrid." I will add my portmanteau designation to the answer presently.
    – ScotM
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 18:18
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    I propose that it should be considered an acromanteau (not to be confused with an acromantula.)
    – Hellion
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 22:21

In addition to the historical threads that ScotM identifies in his excellent answer, several other -pies formations that were current in the 1960s and 1970s may have contributed to the adoption of yuppies as shorthand for members of the sociological category "young urban professionals." To wit: preppies, bippies, blippies, dippies, and trippies.

The term preppies goes back to at least 1963, when it appeared in the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, volume 66 [combined snippets]:

Despite University efforts to the contrary, House stereotypes continue to play a dominant role in the freshman's choice. Winthrop, he has heard, is for athletes; Eliot is filled with preppies and clubbies; Adams is literary or "beat"; Kirkland, "musical" and friendly; Quincy, political; Dunster, "gung-ho"; and so on: ...

A 1963 issue of The New Yorker reported that there was a "foolish, harmless musical spoof" called Preppies at The Promenade on Broadway at 76th Street that year.

Although most people of a certain age remember bippies as a euphemism for anatomical posteriors, popularized in 1967 by the cast of the TV show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, it was also a slang term,as explained in U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Methaqualone (Quaalude, Sopor) Traffic, Abuse and Regulation (1973):

San Francisco society chronicler Meria Zellerbach says she has heard of no run on dermatologists for silicone among that city's bippies (a term not so long ago in vogue for BPs, or Beautiful People, so designated by Women's Wear Daily), but of course plastic surgery to shore up sags and tighten against the stresses of age continues to be popular.

Another early reference to bippies suggests the jocular element in the usage. From Congressional Record (1969) [combined snippets]:

This wave of discontent, with all its ominous implications, doesn't come from the hippies, the bippies or the dippies. It doesn't come from the Far Left, the Far Right or the Far Anything.

It comes from citizens—your neighbors—— the men and women who have tried to fulfill their lives in honorable careers with the postal service.

And from Dairy and Ice Cream Field (1969) [combined snippets]:

Whether they're called Hippies, Bippies, Boy Scouts or Flower Children, teen-agers in the United States are spending money like mad.

The heyday of blippies is more of a blip. The term shows up in Reginald Major, A Panther Is a Black Cat (1971) [combined snippets]:

Reportedly the SNCC [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] staff was wary of the Panthers. They did not accept the Panther ten-point program, and also rejected the idea of conducting black people's plebiscite. The plebiscite was a program thought up by Eldridge Cleaver, and SNCC might have rejected it on that basis. Cleaver had not exactly endeared himself to SNCC when he described them as being primarily composed of "blippies," black hippies.

The word dippies shows up in the duplicative term hippie-dippies and also as a (rather ill-defined) term on its own, essentially meaning "crazy people." From Henry Williamson, The Golden Virgin (1957) [combined snippets]:

You see, midear," he went on, in a different voice, as he pulled out the ends of his moustache with finger and thumb, "if you tell the jolly old doc. he may get me sent away among the genuine dippies, and I'm not really that, you know. You see what happens is this. I can't control my thoughts of what happened when that mine went up taking me for a joy ride. ..."

On the other hand, Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) traces dippy as an adjective to 1899 (with "origin unknown") and says that it means "foolish." The word probably retained that sense as well as "a crazy person" when used as a noun later in the twentieth century.

The term trippies arose in connection with 1960s drug culture. From Liberation: An Independent Monthly (1966) [combined snippets]:

Hippie reject the System, and attempt to drop out from it in various ways, but many do not try to do so through drugs. It is important to distinguish between dropouts for whom drugs are the closest thing to an organizing life principle, and dropouts for whom sex or poetry or "community" or something else comes closest to an organizing life principle. I will here call the drug-centered people "trippies."

Hippies and trippies share a common point of departure—and I share it with them.

And from Tradition, volume 10 (1969) [combined snippets]:

Religious Experiences Not a few "trippies" have reported on the similarity of their experiences to the reports of religious mystics and quite a few papers have discussed the drug's religious implications.

Given the evident predilection in U.S. English for -pies forms, it is hardly surprising that Y.U.P.s should in short order become known as yuppies. They were followed in short order by buppies ("black urban professionals"), muppies ("Mennonite urban professionals), and (more recently) bappies ("booming aspirational and previously poor").

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    That's great. I finally know what Rowan & Martin meant by, "You bet your sweet bippie!" Anatomical posteriors!
    – user98990
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:23
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    Very vaguely remember "Pie-man". But I was nowhere near counter-culture at the time (not for want of trying, mind you, but the only "counter-culture" in my backwater was the crew at the soda bar in the drug store).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:40
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    @LittleEva: Ngram is a great tool for locating examples of words, but it is highly volatile—meaning that a search for a word or phrase over the years 1800–2000 may not turn up an occurrence that a search for the same term or phrase over the years 1800–1875 does. Partly that happens because the Ngram machine is trippy (or dippy); but partly it happens because the search engine applies some sort of hierarchy of value to the search results it finds, and when there are a lot of results, it drops out lower-value matches from magazines, etc. But those may be the ones you want...
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 21:45
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    The place to look for specific results is in the "Search in Google Books" entries beneath the Ngram line graph. For your question, I eventually searched for the terms yippies, preppies, bippies, buppies, yuppies, dippies, trippies, and chappies (which turned out to be a UK term far more than a US one), for the time period 1950–1990. The more-specific date sets approach works well to a certain point, but if you get too granular the search flips out and gives you nothing. So you have to fiddle with the parameters to see what works in a particular case.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 17, 2015 at 22:04
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    One member of the -pie group that I neglected to investigate is chippie, a term frequently used in the mid-20th century to identify a promiscuous woman who was not a prostitute. Reference books report that it was still in use in the 1960s and beyond, though I have never heard anyone use it in everyday speech.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Feb 28, 2015 at 20:28