What’s the Etymology, Dude?

Dude! Today CNN.com posted a nerdy AP story about sociolinguistics and etymology and stuff like that. Here’s the most boring part.

A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word “dude,” contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers and teenagers….

Historically, dude originally meant “old rags” — a “dudesman” was a scarecrow. In the late 1800s, a “dude” was akin to a “dandy,” a meticulously dressed man, especially out West. It became “cool” in the 1930s and 1940s, according to Kiesling. Dude began its rise in the teenage lexicon with the 1981 movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”

“Dude” also shows no signs of disappearing as more and more of our culture becomes youth-centered, said Mary Bucholtz, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“I have seen middle-aged men using ‘dude’ with each other,” she said.

Middle-aged men? Eeeewww! Time to retire that usage.

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