'Good Words to You'

The editors of The Book Review consulted poet and etymologist John Ciardi (featured on National Public Radio's Morning Edition) with regard to the origins of the term yuppie (young urban professional). Ciardi surmises that the word grew out of a progression of terms-- hippie, yippie, yuppie. His theory: hippies believed anyone over 30 was the enemy. Inevitably, you turned your coat, passed 30 and became your own enemy; Abby Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and other yippies (from their Youth International Party) eventually adopted aspects of the Playboy philosophy and became Heffies--9-5ers who put on three-piece suits and became as ardent about having the best as they were casual about throwing it away. Yuppies are 9-5 efficient, Ciardi says, but they can't--or don't--take their own efficiency too seriously. They're frantic consumers who live with frenetic gaiety, waiting for the bomb to go off.

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