Computing Magazine

A Short History of the "Dude"

Posted on the 10 April 2013 by Expectlabs @ExpectLabs

“The Dude abides.“ - The Big Lebowski, a.k.a the holy grail for modern dudes.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, people have been calling each other “dude” since the 1800s, when it was a term given to Victorian men who were obsessed with their appearance. Later in the 20th century, “dude” was adopted by the African-American community as a neutral word for men, which then eventually spread to other American-English dialects. In the sixties, the term morphed into surfer slang for an easy-going kind of guy, and by the seventies, according to Mark Peters from GOOD, “a dude was just a guy.” 

The “dude” had its heyday in the eighties and nineties, as dude-heavy movies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Wayne’s World, and Clerks, helped the term evolve into new types of meaning. Along with being used as an exclamation, people started using the term as an interjection, which is made fun of in this Bud Light commercial.

It’s important to note that “dude” is clearly not a romantic term. Linguistics professor Scott Kiesling found that men are less likely to use “dude” while in “intimate relationships with women.” Makes total sense, dude. 

For more dude scholarship, read the full analysis on GOOD, and check out this paper by linguistics professor Scott Kiesling, of the University of Pittsburgh.

(via GOOD)

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