Slang City Mail

Click here to get this free weekly newsletter delivered to your e-mailbox! Want to see more? Go back to All the Words main page.

April 17, 2008
Slang of the Week: scuppie (noun)
a socially conscious upwardly-mobile person

The Creditar Company hoped to capture the scuppie market with their line of guitars made from recycled credit cards.

Celebrity quote:
"The world is ready for scuppies, Failla says, because the world has gone green"
—Maria Puente, USA Today

Scuppie is a neologism—a newly coined word—created by Chuck Failla, a former stockbroker. While the word is new, the concept is not. Because of my geographical proximity to Cambridge, MA, a bastion of highly-educated, hemp-wearing, reusable-grocery-bag-toting natural-food advocates, I’ve observed scuppie behavior for a long time.

Though it's an admirable goal to be green, some people can be a little militant about it—I was recently chastised in the Star Market by a total stranger for buying tomatoes grown outside Massachusetts. However, the "upwardly-mobile" and "socially conscious" go together; when they are in season, locally-grown organic tomatoes can cost twice as much as ones grown in California or Mexico, putting them out of reach for many people.

As you may have guessed, this word is a variation on yuppie, a somewhat derogatory term for a young upwardly-mobile person that was coined in the 1980s. Other variations include buppie (a black yuppie) and guppie (a gay yuppie).

Though scuppie has been getting a lot of press due to Failla's new book, The Scuppie Handbook, it remains to be seen whether it will be widely used in everyday speech. Most such words do not last beyond their initial publicity; people tend to use new words that develop more organically (pun intended) than those imposed on them by authors.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week's pick: How to Talk American: A Guide to Our Native Tongues by James Marshall Crotty. From Bible Belt Banter to Vegas Vernacular, from Redneck Rhetoric to New England Niceties, Crotty's savvy and often hilarious region-by-region guide to the way we talk provides a dead-on (and sometimes too strange) indication of how we think, how we behave, and what we hold dear.