Whoop vs. whup

Whup has long been a variant of whip, and the Oxford English Dictionary has examples of its use from as long ago as the 16th century (though the word was never widespread until the late 19th century). In modern usage, it’s a mainly American colloquialism meaning to defeat overwhelmingly. Your spell check might disapprove of it (ours does, at least), but it’s a perfectly good word.

A whoop is a cry of exultation, a war cry, the whooping cry of a bird, or a harsh coughing sound. The word also works as a verb for to make a whooping sound. Some pronounce the word with an h sound and some with a w sound.

Whoop is conventionally used in the sarcastically celebratory interjection whoop-de-doo, as well as in the equally sarcastic expression big whoop, which means the same as the sarcastic big deal. It’s also used in whoop it up, meaning to have a joyous celebration.

Examples

For a man who has profited from the debates and promises to whup Obama in the debates, to shrink from repeating onstage what he says in interviews was confusing and weak. [CBS News]

Buy two packs, and you’ll get four balls and party cups. Party over here! Whoop whoop! [Media Bistro]

McGuinty must admit he needs help and forgive those nasty “not up to the job” ads the Tories ran when Harris whupped him in 1999.  [Toronto Sun]

Sure, Rick Santorum is now leading in at least one national poll of Republican voters. Big whoop. [Atlanta Journal Constitution]

This is a rough season for the Suns and their fans, but taking the Lakers out back behind the woodshed for a whupping? [Bright Side of the Sun]

As Eddie ran through the classic solos, Roth and the showgirls whooped it up and danced along. [Los Angeles Times]

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