ESCANABA, Mich. (WWJ) – It took more than 10 years to make it happen, but a man from Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula has finally convinced the people from Merriam-Webster to include the word “yooper” in their dictionary.

The new edition of the dictionary will come out in April, with yooper — which is derived from the initials U.P. — defined as “A native or resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.”

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Steve Parks of Escanaba told WWJ Newradio 950’s Rob Mason how the push began.

“I was playing Scrabble with a friend, and he called me out on the word yooper, and to my amazement he was absolutely correct — it wasn’t in the dictionary,” Parks said. “And so I began this quest to make it happen.”

Through letters and conversations, Parks says he built a relationship with a woman from the dictionary company; and when she started to believe that yooper belonged, Parks began a full-court press to try to prove that  it’s not just a local expression.

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“Along the way I communicated with her, sent her everything that I could find with yooper on it: chocolate bars, magnets for her refrigerator,” he said. “It was just my yooper way of telling her that I appreciated her work and she was being a proponent of yooper.”

Parks said his decade-long effort can be described in these terms: “Strong work ethic, integrity, resilience — all the things that yoopers are.”

Representatives from Merriam-Webster plan to visit the U.P. August to see what being a yooper is all about.

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As for how he should be rewarded for his efforts, Park joked, “When the Upper Peninsula becomes the fifty-first state, I expect that I’m going to be the governor.”