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Nope is another form of No. When we say this other form, we say p in it. What is this p called? Where did it come from?

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Brief answer:

Nope is a variant of no (exclamation), usually pronounced as [nəʊp̚] (AmE [noʊp̚].

Merriam Webster says its first known use dates back to 1888; however, according to Wikitionary, it was used for the first time in the 1850s.

The P in nope is epenthetic and the process of adding it is called Epenthesis.

Explanation:

Epenthesis is the pronunciation of an unhistorical sound within a word usually added for articulatory reasons. Consonants and vowels are usually inserted into words for the sake of ease. Epenthesis happens for a variety of reasons, some of them are:

  • to prevent adjacent vowels in a hiatus, for instance, idea of is pronounced idearof, with an epenthetic r, in most non-rhotic accents to avoid a hiatus
  • another reason is to simplify consonant clusters, for instance, most Indian English speakers pronounce 'school' ischool (breaking the cluster /sk/)
  • between a nasal and a fricative (prince-prints merger)

Some sources call it 'excrescence', though the technical and widely used term for this is epenthesis.


Regarding nope, the P represents the closing of lips after saying No. (exclamation).

Suppose someone asked you a question and you said "No". You would usually pause after saying "No" (exclamation) with your lips already positioned to produce a P.

Other examples include yep, yup and welp ('well'). Yep and yup are the variants of 'yeah' ('yes') as an isolated or emphatic utterance (exclamation), with P representing closing of the lips, creating an unreleased bilabial stop [p̚].

Spanish does the same with si (meaning: yes). Sisip.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Andrew Leach Jun 13 '20 at 17:45
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    @EdwinAshworth: Auto-correct (annoying but extremely useful at times) – Decapitated Soul Feb 17 at 12:22
  • I'll take that as a compliment. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 17 at 12:45
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There are two other words that are similar to nope:

  • Yup
  • Welp

Dictionary.com has the etymologies and the term for this (unreleased labial stop):

ORIGIN OF WELP

First recorded in 1945–50; form of well as an isolated or emphatic utterance, with an excrescent p representing closing of the lips, creating an unreleased labial stop; compare the parallel use of p in nope and yup.

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    youtu.be/ir1sVy9JLyo?t=60 – Kyle Delaney May 29 '20 at 23:18
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    You have copied the explanation of welp and the question is about nope. Dumb point but still I hope it makes sense – user384953 May 30 '20 at 7:30

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