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The Etymological Evolution of Dude, from Dandy Man to Anyone

"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." [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Apr 6, 2012 - 55 comments

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