John McIntyre, "Meep me daddy, eight to the bar":
The principal of a high school in Massachusetts recently banned the word meep in his school, threatening any student who used it, spoken or written, with expulsion. His rationale is that the students were using the word in a disruptive manner.
Of course they were. That is what adolescents do. Few teen pleasures are keener than getting under the skin of officious adults. And the principal, one Thomas Murray, lost composure sufficiently to forward e-mails containing meep to the local police.
John links to Erin McKean's recent meepographical retrospective in the Boston Globe's Ideas section, which cited some of the more creative derivations:
Combine a blank slate like meep and the natural tendency of English to produce new words with suffixes and affixes (and then throw in a little paronomasia, or punning) and you have plenty of scope for meep-related fun. The students (meepsters or meepers) were supposedly planning a mass-meeping, at which people might get meeped, which of course would cause meep-ruption. Meep proved to be an excellent word for expressing disapproval of the ban – “Oh, for meep’s sake,” “Read it and meep,” – although one commenter at the popular discussion site MetaFilter felt the story merited the stronger “Jesus mept,” and another picked up on a popular conspiracy-theory trope with a rousing “WAKE UP MEEPLE!”
And the e-mails containing meep that Murray forwarded to the police? They may have been sent at the behest of members of the Facebook “MEEP” group (which currently has more than 5,000 members) who encouraged others to meep-roll the school administrators.
News of the ban made for a moderately sized sensation, full of entertaining elements – a (possibly) overzealous principal (who also forwarded e-mails containing the word meep to the local police), Muppet references (meep, as we all know, is what the hapless lab assistant Beaker says, often as things explode and catch fire around him), Road Runner references (with learned commentary at blogs such as Language Log, where it was pointed out that the fleet-footed bird’s beep-beep sounds more like meep-meep, with a spectrogram to prove it), students wearing “FREE MEEP” T-shirts, and social media references (the students allegedly used Facebook to coordinate their meeping).
I'm going to get ahead of the crowds and submit my WOTY ("word of the year") nomination early: meep.
[It's a surprise, by the way, to find that the OED is completely meepless. I expected that the meeps would be a fungal disease of geese, mentioned in one of Hardy's novels, or that a meep-spring would be a device for adjusting the tension of rovings in a draw frame. It's rare (I think) to find such a phonotactically-probable monosyllable with no obsolete or technical applications. ]