Wednesday, July 31, 2013


To the best of my recollection, it was approximately a year ago, or maybe two, that I first read the word "welp".  I didn't record the date, because it seemed like an isolated event and not something I would want to come back to.  It was fairly recent in the history of the English language, in any case.  I had to look the word up to make sure I knew what it meant.  I knew the word "whelp", but it didn't fit in the context.

According to the entry for "welp" in Wiktionary, it is an alternate form for "well" as in interjection, as in "Well, I was going to go to the store....", in the same way as "yep" and "nope" are alternate forms "yeah" and "no".   Wiktionary comes with the same set of caveats that come with Wikpedia, but their definition made perfect sense in context, and it might even be a more accurate representation of the pronunciation when people use the word that way. 

Since the first time I saw it, especially in the last few months, I've seen the word used all the time.  I've yet to see any language-y types take note of the phenomenon.  Even the good folks at Language Log, who often comment on trends in language, don't seem to have noticed yet.  A search for the word on their website only gives two results.  In one result, it is an acronym unrelated to this usage.  In the other result, the word doesn't even appear.

It's not a word in my browser's dictionary either.

Why the sudden proliferation?