Anatomy of a Midwesternism:

“Honestly, ope is barely a word, and more of a guttural reaction; it almost sounds like a tiny heave. It effectively translates to, “I don’t mean to bother you or anyone around me, ever, but I’ve noticed…” Ope is less of a word, and more of a reflex. It can communicate excitement or awkwardness or surprise or an apology or even urgency. It’s an interruption in the most discreet way possible. Where the Italians have prego as their linguistically fluid go-to word, we have ope.”

(Grace Perry, Chicago Magazine)