I'm not your buddy, bro. I'm not your bro, dude. I'm not your dude, pal
January 3, 2015 3:14 AM   Subscribe

Texas is bro country. But the term also covers the entirety of Oklahoma, and almost all of Louisiana and Arkansas, plus good chunks of Kansas and New Mexico. A mid-sized gathering of bros straddles the Michigan-Indiana border, and a tiny bro community lives by the seaside on either side of the Virginia-North Carolina state line.
American regional variations in what you call your male best friends. By Frank Jacobs.
posted by MartinWisse (94 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Man" didn't make the cut, but "pal" and "fella" did? Are the upper Midwest and Swampalachia populated by 1930s gangsters? Bunch a wise guys. Nothin' doin,' see!
posted by univac at 4:05 AM on January 3, 2015 [20 favorites]


I couldn't see in the article how they controlled for people calling women dude, buddy, pal, etc. either in the FPP link or the Quartz post linked therein. Is this representing what men call other men, or just how frequently these words appear on Twitter in general?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:07 AM on January 3, 2015


I knew a Scottish guy who called people "pal," but when he said it, it sounded like a threat.
posted by marienbad at 4:23 AM on January 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


The United States of Bros
posted by box at 4:24 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how accurate this is. No matter what part of the country I've lived in, most of my friends referred to me as "asshole", and that term isn't even mentioned in the study.
posted by HuronBob at 4:29 AM on January 3, 2015 [38 favorites]


I knew a Scottish guy who called people "pal," but when he said it, it sounded like a threat.

I had a long layover in Toronto on my way home to the Maritimes from California just around Christmas and the way people would greet each other with "hey buddy" kept tickling my 'is this guy trying to start a fight?' spidey senses.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:32 AM on January 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


That may be a local phenomenon though Bob. ;)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:33 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are they including Bruh and Brah in Bro? If so: foul play.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:34 AM on January 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


We call our male friends "tits" around here, WHY DIDNT THEY ACCOUNT FOR THIS IN THE STUDY
posted by oceanjesse at 4:37 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


They do know that there are a lot of people not on Twitter, right? In fact, I don't think I know any men under 40 that are on Twitter unless it's for work.
posted by tamitang at 4:38 AM on January 3, 2015


I don't seen an entry for "matey." But maybe I just hang around with too many pirates.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:39 AM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


"Me and the tits are hanging out"
posted by oceanjesse at 4:42 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is either a terrible study or a terrible way of reporting on it, possibly both. It sounds like the authors just made up a a list of terms (based on what?) that they then mapped by frequency. Being from northern Illinois, I call my male friends "guys" when I'm referring to them as a group, and (often) "man" when it's a one-on-one greeting. As in: "Hey man, I was going to meet up with some of the guys later, you busy?"

This study doesn't give any way of mapping these uses, which I'd bet are pretty common, thus illustrating one of the major shortcomings of using data mining to reveal linguistic trends: it's still too stupid to automatically detect even many unsubtle semantic parameters.
posted by informavore at 4:43 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is one of the few US map infographics where frequency didn't pretty much map directly to population density.
posted by klarck at 4:48 AM on January 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe it's my age. I call my male friends by their first names except for two whose nicknames I use.
posted by notreally at 4:54 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I call my droogs "friends" which is only allowed if you're not on f******k.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:59 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


We called my brother's male best friend his "heterosexual life partner" but that's just because they kept vacationing on Caribbean islands together.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:05 AM on January 3, 2015 [20 favorites]


It's all so much simpler in Greece, where guys call strangers "friend" and call their friends "masturbator."
posted by taz at 5:06 AM on January 3, 2015 [16 favorites]


My gripe is that for some reason they made a nifty interactive infographic, then just published screenshots of it.

Do I need to be a member to push the buttons and see the pretty colors shuffle around, or what?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:25 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


My grandfather called just about all male people "Mac" - friends and strangers alike.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:28 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]



It's all so much simpler in Greece, where guys call strangers "friend" and call their friends "masturbator."


I had no idea Greece is the wrestling team at my high school.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:40 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


My gripe is that for some reason they made a nifty interactive infographic, then just published screenshots of it.

Do I need to be a member to push the buttons and see the pretty colors shuffle around, or what?


No, you just need the link to the Quartz article that the Big Think article cites.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:42 AM on January 3, 2015


Reminds me of a tweet by Austin comedian Brian Gaar:

If you pull a lizard's tail off, it will grow back. If you pull it off again, the lizard will be like "dude."
posted by four panels at 5:43 AM on January 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


The New England states didn't seem to score extremely high on any of them. The deepest purple it got -- still in the not-common range -- was reserved for "pal" which I've mostly heard used as a precursor to an insult. Perhaps we're just not that friendly here?
posted by .kobayashi. at 6:02 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Perhaps we're just not that friendly here?

I clicked the link just to see what New Englanders called each other. I suspected "hey asshole" or similar would score high. I was disappointed.
posted by davros42 at 6:09 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was infected with a variant of the dude virus whilst embarking on my voyage into a transcontinental it's-complicated with an Angeleno ten years ago after 36 years of being able to speak like a human. It's a manageable disease, of course, and just hangs at my nerve endings like the viral chains of Simplex II, emerging embarrassingly in civil conversations about sophisticated subjects with erudite urbanites for whom "and then I was like, 'dude!'" is the clearest sign that I am not properly of the group.

Dude.
posted by sonascope at 6:10 AM on January 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


Thing is, once you speak dude, you learn to deploy "so, uh—you down to clown?" with aplomb.
posted by sonascope at 6:12 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I call everyone 'you'.
posted by srboisvert at 6:14 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where's the "broseph" line?

I assumed the words on the first map in the article would be clickable and would adjust the map view accordingly, but I was fooled.
posted by emelenjr at 6:18 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The only time I've ever heard buddy from someone under age 65 was when they were spoiling for a fight over a spilled soda.
posted by lineofsight at 6:19 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've only ever heard "pal" as a precursor to a fight. "Buddy" usually isn't friendly, either. Put me down for "man" and "guys" too.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:20 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


i've got intimacy issues which is probably one of the gagillion reasons why i have no friends to start with, but if I did, given said intimacy issues, I'd probably call everyone "man".

"Bro" sounds too contrived to to be used by this 42-year-old who still listens to mix tapes.

i'm particularly fond of "habibi", which is used by a number ofArabic-speaking people around here, among their close friends.

I also like "Fratello" ("brother", in Italian), used by some guests from Italy we hosted.
posted by bitteroldman at 6:24 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The full word "brother" only seems genuine from a Vietnam vet biker sporting at least two pow/mia patches.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:26 AM on January 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


I dunno, Jax seems to pull it off, but I'll admit Clay gives the term more gravitas.
posted by valkane at 6:28 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm in New England and my best male friend is definitely my bro. Therefore this study is terrible
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:31 AM on January 3, 2015


Grew up in Dallas, TX and now live in Canada. That I still frequently refer to other men as "dudes" will sometimes elicit odd comments from my co-workers. The same for whenever I use the word "ya'll".
posted by Fizz at 6:47 AM on January 3, 2015


I was surprised to see "buddy" not rank in New York, since it is part of the traditional New York greeting, "Hey buddy I'm WALKIN' here!"
posted by oinopaponton at 6:50 AM on January 3, 2015


First attested in American English in 1850, buddy could be a modified version of brother, but also of butty, a British colloquialism for companion (attested from 1802) that may be linked to the early 16th-century term booty fellow, as in someone who shares in the plunder.
Booty fellow. Yes, I can see a renewed use for this.
posted by automatic cabinet at 6:53 AM on January 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


Also, the possibly not great study parameters aside, I keep having quiet giggle fits at phrases like "heaving with dudes."
posted by automatic cabinet at 7:00 AM on January 3, 2015


The maps are a touch white-privilegish, no? I'm not really hearing the words "bro, pal, dude, or fella" in my hip-hop collection.
posted by Renoroc at 7:13 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Teaching in a pretty much all-black school, I was really surprised to hear how often "bro" or "bruh" is used– I too had always thought they were white terms.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:23 AM on January 3, 2015


This far, and no "I'm not your friend, buddy"?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:28 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love this article to death and also that typo in the link makes my eyes hurt and also how did they control for use of Dude as an interjection.
posted by bq at 7:35 AM on January 3, 2015


"Buddy" strikes me as amusing because around here it's used pretty universally with children - any gender - under 5, especially if you don't know their name. "Hey buddy, are you supposed to be chewing on that?" "C'mere buddy, I've got a bandaid for that youch." If I heard someone call a grown man buddy, I'd assume they were teasing the guy for acting like a toddler.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


It says I'm right on the border between "dude" and "pal", but I hear dude way more often. "Pal" sounds like someone starting a fight, like "hey you got a problem pal?!"
posted by mathowie at 7:44 AM on January 3, 2015


Where I grew up (not in the US, but in the far Southwest of England), pretty much everyone used to address friends and strangers alike as 'my lover'. Occasionally they'd say 'my flower' instead (which was also gender-neutral, by the way). This has almost completely died out in my lifetime, which I think is a bit sad, because it used to confuse the hell out of visitors.
posted by pipeski at 8:01 AM on January 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


My home state of Maryland apparently didn't register high enough for any of these, but I can attest that the state is (almost exclusively amongst white males) "dude" country. You can convey a lot of meaning just in how you say it and within what context. Like that one scene from The Wire where McNulty and Bunk said nothing but "fuck" to each other and made a whole conversation out of it, you can do the same with "dude".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:06 AM on January 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Where I'm from the word buddy is mostly used to refer to dogs and small children, and by extension feels a lot like an insult when applied to a grown person. At my job, I'm in a service position and interact with a lot bourgeoisie types from the Northeast, who call me buddy on a regular basis. At first I chalked this up to regional differences, but based on the map it seems they really are being assholes.
posted by bracems at 8:09 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is soon much simpler in Chile where everyone, male, female, intersex, is 'hueón'.
posted by signal at 8:15 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


So when John Mclane says "Welcome to the party, pal" is he bringing the New Yorkism for male friend to the West Coast, or has he adopted the LA style after only a few hours? Or is he originally from somewhere else? The study does not answer this question clearly.
posted by nubs at 8:30 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe men have taken to calling feral hogs bro in west Texas and New Mexico. Otherwise, this makes no sense as there aren't even that many people in the bro area to call each other bro.
posted by tamitang at 8:34 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


double block and bleed: "The full word "brother" only seems genuine from a Vietnam vet biker sporting at least two pow/mia patches."

And Hulk Hogan.
posted by symbioid at 8:38 AM on January 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is weird. I've never in my life referred to my best male friend as "fella" or heard it used as such by others. Where I'm from in Mississippi, "fella" usually refers to a man in general, as in "that fella there" or "I got a fella that can fix you up."
posted by echocollate at 8:39 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've always hated "bro" because it makes me think of frat boys and if there's one demographic I can't stand more than frat boys, it's "Texans" and oh, hey, look who ELSE says "bro" so... STILL hating it. (Yes, yes, "not all Texans"... I do have some friends from Austin and my roomie has a friend or two from there, and much of my father's side of the family grew up in that area, hence the quotes).

The only time I called the police on a guy for pissing me off/public disorder was a neighbor upstairs w/his frathole friends... we got into verbal altercations, once, with him threatening to knock me out and I said "threat to violence? I'm calling the police"...

Anyways, before that incident had ever happened I used to get pissed due to their noisiness on college game days (and other noisiness on non-game days - like running/stomping up stairs, slamming doors, etc.... and never changing their ways when asked POLITELY to please keep it down) ... I called them the "frat boys" and one time heard them walking outside and one was like "BRO!" and I'm like "Of COURSE you say 'bro'." (Completely reinforcing my already poor perception of these wankers, and further proof that assholes say "bro")

I'm more of a dude/man guy myself, and I'm on the edge of "dude" territory. I've also, in the past, used "sir" and still occasionally do, when I'm feeling extra silly.

One of my coworkers said "buddy" to me, and I always think that's weird, like, something you say to a five year old... My friend who lives in "buddy" territory, now, apparently, according to this map, really hates it, because he hears it from all his friends who have kids.

I'll give "bruh" a pass, because I think that's more from AAVE...

And you only say bra if you're like, from the 50s/60s and/or from the UK, or a stoner/surfer and psyched, braaaaah! OK, I guess I'll let that pass to, so ... nevermind.
posted by symbioid at 8:49 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where's Brah? This seems more like what young people on Twitter say.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:03 AM on January 3, 2015


I say "buddy," but in the nicest way possible and with no intention of diminishing or starting a fight. I have an evening with my buddies. I seem to also use it when I'm attempting to be tender or when one of my friends is sore at me. Something like, "Come on, buddy. Don't be like that." But I read The Catcher in the Rye dozens of times when I was a kid, and "buddy" is used pretty often in that novel. But then again, Salinger's inclusion of the word in certain scenes seems to be for passive-aggressive effect.

Whatever. I'm a buddy kind of guy.

I know an older gentleman about town who uses "fella" in the nicest sense imaginable. If I pass him on the sidewalk, he says, "Hey, fella." Yes, he knows my name.
posted by samizdat at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2015


Where I grew up (not in the US, but in the far Southwest of England), pretty much everyone used to address friends and strangers alike as 'my lover'.

"Cock" used to be the equivalent in Manchester and Lancashire - the Buzzcocks got their name from the phrase "what's the buzz, cock?" You don't hear it much these days, presumably for the same reason you never meet anyone with great northern surnames like Shufflebottom anymore...
posted by sobarel at 9:14 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just go full on RPG character and call everyone Companion.
posted by The Whelk at 9:26 AM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is sort of worthless without carnal and vato.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:31 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I might possibly refer to someone as "my buddy", but I wouldn't address a friend as "Buddy". I wouldn't address a stranger that way unless I was looking for trouble. And I occasionally refer to someone as a "dude", but I never address anyone as "Dude".
posted by jkent at 9:33 AM on January 3, 2015


Booty fellow. Yes, I can see a renewed use for this.

It does occupy a somewhat more genteel niche than "butt buddy," true.

& after my 10 years in DC, I kind of wish my friends and I had taken to referring to one another as "contacts" 'cause lord knows that word is out there.
posted by psoas at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


There didn't seem to be any criteria listed for what tweets got included in the sample, so why are we supposed to believe this is actually measuring friend-friend usage? Also is this just second person ("What's up, pal?") or also third person ("I don't know what my pal's been up to.")?
posted by aaronetc at 10:42 AM on January 3, 2015


In So. Fla, which doesn't rank highly on any of their chosen words, we tend to use "boys."

Me and the boys like to drink beer and play D&D.
posted by oddman at 10:55 AM on January 3, 2015


I just say Meng tho, kna mean?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:07 AM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where I am in Bristol 'My lover' and 'My flower' are current, also more rarely and specifically male, 'My handsome.' Up in the NorthEast it was 'Pet', 'Petal', 'Flower', all gender-neutral.
posted by glasseyes at 11:08 AM on January 3, 2015


Ol' Chap? no?
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:20 AM on January 3, 2015


Abilene's Church of Non-Dude is surprisingly influential.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:33 AM on January 3, 2015


In New York, 'hermano' 'homie' and paisan,' are common as well.
posted by jonmc at 11:40 AM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


the bad statistics behind this
posted by dmd at 11:46 AM on January 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


I use "man" and sometimes "dude" as interjections but call a lot of my friends "kids" as a group ("hi kids!! bye kids!!"), which occasionally makes them confused, but "kids" is at least gender neutral. I also use "comrades" and "fronds" (a corruption of "friends" that invites lovely plant jokes) for some internet communities, because this amuses me and because the regional variations in whether "guys" is gender neutral ended up with some folks feeling that "guys" was misgendering or erasing, which was a good enough excuse to stretch my vocabulary and get a bit silly.
posted by NoraReed at 1:41 PM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


A map of Austrlia in solid purple with the word "mate" inset.
posted by furtive at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2015


I was infected with the "dude" virus by an old roommate. We are women.

I heard a group of young Somali women calling each other "bro" as they got on the train a few days ago. Loved it.

"Buddy" is what we call animal friends. It started when we were catsitting one chubby friend named Peanut. He became "Mr. Peanut Buddy" and after that, all critters were buddies.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:54 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The butler used to occupy the buttery, where butts of wine were stored. Maybe buddy is a variation of butty sharing the master's wine with the other help, or plunder. If flower is used as a friend name, then maybe buddy was affectionate for a smaller friend. Knowing poeples' names seems much more civilized than making them up.

I had recent experience with "babe," the name players use when they have way too many fish on the line, to remember names, Yeah babe, hey babe, yo babe, so babe, well babe, baaaayyybeeee!

Bro in my memory seemed to ooze up out of early seventies, faux intimate, doper culture, the intimate register of language for anonymous drug dealing. Now with voice recognition software, it does not matter how many ways you say bro, they know. Same with babe, it is still one voice saying it, the call still goes to someone's number. Ah the good old days are over, pal, sweets, schatzie, matey, yo, bro, amor, Tom, Dick,Harry. Even recently down on the res, was a young woman who lives with a bootlegger, who goes by Sweetie Pie. My all time favorite was the married woman who carried on a flaming affair around her toddler, by always calling her lover "duckie."

I thin that pet names have frequently been used to conceal identity.
posted by Oyéah at 2:11 PM on January 3, 2015


I hear Mexican guys calling each other "guay" a lot.
posted by telstar at 2:43 PM on January 3, 2015


The Whelk: "Just go full on RPG character and call everyone Companion."

Relevant Mr. Show sketch.
posted by symbioid at 2:54 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use 'mec' in French, which I think is Vaudois but which may possibly be from reading Gaston comics.

Otherwise, I'm like, "dude!", man.

Inorite? Like, dude!

Weird not to see it in the PNW on the map, because, like, dude!
posted by mwhybark at 3:01 PM on January 3, 2015


Also found in Maryland, or at least in Baltimore proper, is of course "hon", as well as "bud" and "kid". Only the last one is gender neutral, although after a certain age it drops out of your vocabulary. Probably shortly after college.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:31 PM on January 3, 2015


I'm assuming that the author isn't the Frank Jacobs who used to write for Mad magazine. That Jacobs is still alive, if Wikipedia is to be believed - he turned 85 this year.

I'm from Toronto, and if I heard "buddy", "fella", or "pal", I'd assume that the other guy was at least annoyed at me, if not worse.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 4:18 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now I miss my Minnesota friends, who mostly use "Yeah buddy!" as sort of an "All right!" or "Saw-eeet!" interjection.
posted by MsDaniB at 4:20 PM on January 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Buddy" is ok in the third person--"my buddy fell off a ladder"--but, in my idiolect, condescending as a form of address. Although, I think "buddy" might be somehow easier or better to shout after someone who, say, leaves something at a bar/restaurant table, or absentmindedly starts to walk into traffic. But then it still involves a sort of enthymematic rebuke--"you oughtta be more careful, buddy!" "Man" and "dude" are my go-tos, but I have worked "amigo" into my repertoire.
posted by batfish at 7:13 PM on January 3, 2015


I'd like to see the map for "Hoss."
posted by Navelgazer at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


My friends use "champ" and sometimes "senator".
posted by 724A at 8:14 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Where's the "broseph" line?

Hey, home skillet! I think it's right over here!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:57 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


My friends use "champ" and sometimes "senator".

I call people "Senator," and it seems to please most of them. I think I got it from a Chevy Chase movie -- "Fletch," perhaps.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:02 PM on January 3, 2015


All of a sudden my 14 year old calls his friends "my squad." I picture them flying in low over the lunchroom and doing barrel rolls in the gym.
posted by Biblio at 9:29 PM on January 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a sad lack of 'duderino' on these maps. A special case of 'dude'? That's just like, your opinion, man.
posted by jammer at 7:40 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


mwhybark, you say you use 'mec' in French. My grandfather was Acadian. I wonder if he started out with 'mec' and it became 'Mac'. I didn't know that word at all now.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:45 AM on January 4, 2015


wiktionary says it derives from "macquerau," mackerel, but as slang for a pimp. I immediately thought of Brecht's Mac the Knife, even though there it's clearly from Macky's last name, MacHeath.

I also use "les gars" de temps en temps.

The Online Etymology Dictionary provides that "mac" derives from the Gaelic naming prefix "Mac", "son of", and speculates that the usage is equivalent to "son", a usage I actually employ from time to time - usually tongue in cheek.

got that, Sunny Jim? ;)
posted by mwhybark at 12:14 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Son of a gun!
posted by Oyéah at 5:02 PM on January 4, 2015


Dude, I'm like, an active carrier of the dude virus.
posted by culfinglin at 5:32 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find it appropriate that Texas is basically a giant dude-hole.
posted by mikeand1 at 5:56 PM on January 4, 2015


Man, I have to figure out a way to use Booty Fellow
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:29 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pals
posted by univac at 11:35 AM on January 5, 2015


Re: hip hop

"Bruh" is more commonly used by black dudes IME, bro is plenty common in the hip hop world, and "dude" is taking the place of "nigga" quite often. Up to and including saying "what's up my dude?"
posted by aydeejones at 11:55 AM on January 5, 2015


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