"Dude" is a term with quite a history
, possibly starting in the mid 19th century with Erastus Brooks
, an editor of the New York Express
(NYT excerpt, link to full PDF). In writing, "the "dude" craze began in New York City in 1883
," apparently starting with the poem The True Origin and History of "The Dude"
, published on 14 January 1883, in the New York World
. As the "vapid fops" traveled west, dude ranches sprang up, catering to city slickers
. Some eight decades after the term proliferated in New York City, "dude" was applied to any male in African American vernacular
. In 1969, dude was defined as nice guy, a regular sort of person
[YT short clip
] in Easy Rider
, then claimed by surfers, as represented by Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
in 1982. Four years later, everyone loves Ferris Bueller, "he's a righteous dude." Baseketball turns the one word into a conversation
in 1998, the same year El Duderino claims the term as a personal title
. By 2011, the word, in some circles, has come around to the beginning
, with Dude-itors, laid-back editors
, the opposite of the "tightly wound, hyper-neurotic editor of yesteryear."
The birth of the word itself is hard to pin down, though some cite "Yankee Doodle Dandy" as the origin
(12th comment down), with relation to the older term "dandy"
, and "doodle" being truncated to a single syllable of "dood" or "dude."
In the 1870s, "dude" popped up in scattered writings
, as the nickname for one "Dude" Collins in 1976 in Ohio, and the following year Frederic Remington
wrote of dudes as the opposite of "Indians, cowboys, villains or toughs." Likewise, "dude soldiers
" were soft individuals, mentioned in Fighting Indians in the 7th United States Cavalry: Custer's favorite regiment
, which was published by Ami Frank Mulford in 1879. That same year, Eatons' Ranch opened in North Dakota, and friends from the East began to visit them almost immediately
. With this, Eatons' Ranch claims the title of the first "dude ranch."
As cited above the break, Barry Popik
found an explosion of dude or dood in 1883 in New York City
, with a number of articles and similar definitions published around that time. One definition, printed in February in the New York Mirror
, is as follows:
For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. He is a Dood.
was correct foretelling the popularity of the term overtaking Masher
, though the spelling "dude" won out. Along with the articles, a number of cartoons were published
, depicting various forms of dudes. The male dude was soon paired with dudette, as published 28 April 1883, in the Brooklyn Sunday Eagle
. Two other female forms, dudine
, have since faded.
Citations for "dude" in the urban slang in the 1950s and 60s are harder to find online, but especially as the term has become more widely used by more people. Dude plays a large role in surfer lingo
, with various derivative forms ("dode" is a poser, "donk" is a stupid dude, "nardude" is a sculpted dude, and so on).
Beyond print and movies, Dude is referenced in song. In 1972, David Bowie wrote All The Young Dudes
for Mott the Hoople, which Bowie penned not as a hymn to the youth, but the terrible news of the impending doom of earth
. In '74, Steely Dan released Any Major Dude Will Tell You
on the album Pretzel Logic
. Aerosmith wrote Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
in 1987, after hanging out with Mötley Crüe, who said Dude a lot