A guide to Midwest language and slang

The unique language of the Midwest has recently been trending on Twitter. I have come to realize that the people of the Midwest have a weird way of talking compared to the rest of the country. Today, I will provide a guide to the language of the Midwest people, along with the key principles of Midwest culture. 

The first, and most arguably important, word of the Midwest language is Ope. Let’s say you’re in the grocery store, and you accidentally bump shoulders with someone; the common response is, “Ope.” Ope is a short and direct translation to “Oh excuse me, I am so sorry. I did not mean to bump into you.” The nice thing about the word ope—when used in the proper setting—is that it a simple and sweet word that is sincere. 

The next area to cover in the Midwest language is the “no yeah no”; “yeah no yeah”; and the different contexts of “no” and “yeah”. Make sure you have your paper and pen ready; this part can be very confusing. In the Midwest, the word no often means yes, and yes often means no. I know this doesn’t make any sense, but I will give it some context. 

No yeah:

“Did you take out the trash?” 

 “No, yeah.”

This is a perfect use of the “no yeah”. You see the no is almost used as an um or as a pause to then emphasize the answer: “yeah.” 

Yeah no:

“Do you know where I put my keys?” 

“Yeah no”

In this example of the “yeah no,” the yeah is used to acknowledge that you have an answer, and then no is stated to clarify that you do not know the location. 

No yeah for sure means definitely:

“Would you be able to pick me up after school?”

“No yeah, for sure” – variation “No yeah, for sure bud.”

Note—an alternative for “yes,” “yeah,” and “no yeah no” is “you betcha.” 

In addition to the ope, there is the very common sorry. This word is often overused, due to the fact that we Midwesterns feel the need to apologize for everything. For example, “Sorry I’m late, someone rear-ended me.” This statement demonstrates the generosity of a common Midwestern, as they apologize for something they are not responsible for. 

Next up focuses on the topic of food. We take great pride in our food. We also take great pride in our friendliness. Hence the term jeet pronounced (di-ge-eat). The direct translation of jeet is “Did you eat?”

An additional conversational term is the classic, but simple, welp. This is often used in friendly small talk among two passing neighbors. After a short 45 minutes, one may glance at their wrist (there may or may not be a watch) and say “welp” followed by “I spose we should get going.” Spose is the shortened version of I suppose. Welp is generally used to say “I should get going; it was nice seeing ya.” 

The next area I will give an overview of is the driving culture. As a driver, especially in the rural areas, one is often warned to “watch out for deer.” Believe it or not, there is a lot of deer here in the Midwest, and it isn’t uncommon to find them as roadkill.

Next is the driving wave. If you don’t wave at someone when they let you pull out in front of them, it’s considered a sin. When one Midwesterner arrives at a four-way stop, regardless of the order they arrived, they will feel obligated to wave everyone on and let them go in front of them. 

Lastly, I will cover the weather’s impact on the Midwestern culture. Tornado sirens can be an often occurrence. Believe it or not, Midwesterners have adapted over time to be able to sniff out a storm, as we often say “I can smell the storm coming.” When the sirens start going off, dads will very step out onto their front porch to watch the storm; don’t worry, if it gets really bad, they will eventually go inside. Additionally, remember it is not the heat that gets ya—it’s the humidity. 

In the next edition we will be going into depth over proper side dishes, the importance of Ranch and cheese, what is pop, what is driving around, and “Hi hungry, I’m dad.”