Sunday, June 15, 2008

Word Origins: Dude

So I think I'm going to start a bit of a regular entry: "Word Orgins"

The first entry is the word Dude, a la Wikipedia:

"The term dude is an American-English slang word generally used informally to address a male individual, though it does have uses as a gender-neutral pronoun as described below. The word was once used primarily by young adults but has become a common slang term used in various age groups. The female equivalent, though rarely used, is dudette.[citation needed]

Dude is, under certain circumstances, gender-neutral. Mostly used by young men it has also evolved to be used by female members of the society.[1] "Dude" may also be used alone in a sentence denoting a feeling of surprise, happiness, disappointment, amazement or other emotions.[2] The word might also be used practically anywhere in a sentence in order to convey such sentiments in conversation. The cadence, volume and length of the word is also used to denote the feeling, such as a clipped "dude" for irritation, or a long "duuude" for amusement, surprise, or wonder.

Other, older definitions of dude exist; a particularly well-dressed male or one who is unfamiliar with life outside a large city. These definitions may go hand-in-hand, hence the phrased definition "An Easterner in the West" (United States).[3]

One of the earliest books to use the word was The Home and Farm Manual, written by Jonathan Periam in 1883. In that work, Periam used the term dude several times to denote an ill-bred and ignorant, but ostentatious, man from the city."

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