AskDefine | Define dude

Dictionary Definition

dude n : a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance [syn: dandy, fop, gallant, sheik, beau, swell, fashion plate, clotheshorse]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings



  1. (literal meaning) An inexperienced cowboy.
  2. A man.
  3. (slang; used in the vocative) A term of address for a man.
    Relax, dude.
  4. A dandy, a man who is very concerned about his dress and appearance.



slang: man
slang: term of address for a man
dandy See dandy


  1. Be careful!
    Dude! You're going to hit that car.
  2. I agree emphatically
    Do you want to drive down to get some sliders? Dude!
  3. That was spectacular!
    Dude! That 1080 with a grab was awesome!
  4. I'm having a transcendent experience!
    Dude! This light show is awesome.
  5. Something bad happened.
    Dude! Where is my car?
  6. I feel your pain.
    Dude! ... I know what that feels like.
  7. Back off!
    Dude! I told you that I don't want to dance with you.
  8. Hey you!
    Dude! Grab that for me.

Derived terms



  1. bagpipes (musical instrument)

Extensive Definition

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.
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. "Dude" may also be used alone in a sentence denoting a feeling of surprise, happiness, disappointment, amazement or other emotions. 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).
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.

Origins and common usage

Originally "dude" meant a city person in the country, with strong connotations of ignorance of rural ways. The word as used in contemporary culture, typically American, may have had its origins in the Irish , and indeed, dúd in modern Irish is a derogatory term for a foolish person .
One example of this use is "Dude Ranches", ranches built in the western states of America for "Dudes", or city folk to experience "cowboy life". "Dude" was also used in the 1860s-1870s by cowboys to describe a newcomer to the West. Tombstone Sherriff John Slaughter was thought to be a "dude" when he first arrived in Tombstone. In the Howard Hawks film "Rio Bravo" from 1959 one of the actors (Dean Martin) is called "Dude".

Dude in popular culture

The term dude became prominent in surfer culture in the early '60s, but it wasn't until the mid-'70s that it started creeping into the mainstream. Some usages in pop culture have contributed to the spread of this word:
  • 1883 - Political cartoon of Chester Alan Arthur pictures the refined, well dressed President, with the caption, "According to your cloth you've cut your coat, O Dude of all the White House residents; We trust that will help you with the vote, When next we go nominating Presidents."
  • 1889 - Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome refers to dudes: "It is the town of showy hotels, patronized chiefly by dudes and ballet girls."
  • 1889 - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, talks about how commoners in Medieval Britain worshipped nobility and title without question, for the sake only of a meaningless title: "... and the best of English commoners was still content to see his inferiors impudently continuing to hold a number of positions, such as lordships and the throne, to which the grotesque laws of his country did not allow him to aspire; in fact, he was even able to persuade himself that he was proud of it. It seems to show that there isn't anything you can't stand, if you are only born and bred to it. Of course that taint, that reverence for rank and title, had bee in our American blood, too - I know that; but when I left America it had disappeared - at least to all intents and purposes. The remnant of it was restricted to the dudes and dudesses. When a disease has worked its way down to that level, it may fairly be said to be out of the system."
  • 1898 - Some Dudes Can Fight, an early silent film in which a Bowery young man starts a fight with another gentleman
  • 1933 - The Dude Bandit, a western in which Tod 'Ace' Carter Hoot Gibson defeats the evil moneylender Al Burton Hooper Atchley.
  • 1959 - Rio Bravo, a western in which a sheriff John Wayne and deputies, including a drunk (named Dude) Dean Martin, defeat the bad guys.
  • 1962 - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, western in which Lee Marvin uses the term repeatedly, especially toward Jimmy Stewart.
  • 1966 - The Endless Summer, a documentary featuring the bohemian lifestyle of the surfer, including a soundtrack featuring the The Sandals.
  • 1969 - Easy Rider, Peter Fonda's character defines 'dude' as "nice guy" and "regular sort of person".
  • 1972 - "All the Young Dudes", a hit single performed by Mott the Hoople, written by David Bowie.
  • 1973 - Dude, a musical by Galt MacDermot.
  • 1978 - Big Wednesday, a film drama depicting the surfer life in the '60s and '70s.
  • 1982 - Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a wildly successful teen comedy/drama featuring Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, the quintessential surfer dude. A sarcastic, but warm treatment, this film is largely responsible for the first wave of the mainstreaming of 'dude'.
  • 1980s - Dude enters the mainstream via multiple surfer dude spoofs in film. It spreads rapidly with skateboard culture which is a direct descendant of surf culture, but is not restricted by geography. Sometime mid-decade dude crosses the gender barrier. Dude also appears frequently in the popular animated television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • 1985 - Less Than Zero (written by Brett Easton Ellis) is first to use the overused phrase, "No way, dude!", and the first mainstream display of dude having crossed the gender barrier. In a noteworthy scene a young woman tells her mother, "No way, dude."
  • 1987 - "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" by Aerosmith tops the charts. The punk western film Dudes is released.
  • 1989 - On February 17, 1989 Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, introduced Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter as Ted "Theodore" Logan and Bill S. Preston, Esq., two righteous band dudes, bringing dude to an even wider audience. Ted uses the word "dude" 10 times in the first 15 minutes, and doesn't ever let up. The next day on February 18 the first segment of the "Wayne's World" skit aired on Saturday Night Live''.
  • 1989 - "Hey Dude" airs on Nickelodeon and runs for 3 years. The cast of this teenage sitcom set on a dude ranch included Christine Taylor.
  • 1991 - Bryan Adams and his band are credited as the "Dudes of Leisure" on Waking up the Neighbours and all subsequent albums.
  • 1990 - Thrash metal band Scatterbrain's single "Don't Call Me Dude" from the album Here Comes Trouble was a Top 20 hit in Australia.
  • 1993 - Adam Sandler's comedy album "They're All Gonna Laugh at You" features the track "Buddy", where several characters have a conversation comprised almost entirely of the words, "Buddy", "Homie", and "Dude".
  • 1994 - In the TV show Friends, the male characters, Ross, Joey and Chandler, frequently refer to each other as "dude", as a term of endearment and to express shock/surprise.
  • 1997 - Dude Ranch , an album fromblink-182
  • 1998 - BASEketball, featuring Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as two young men who at one point in the film have an argument where every word is "dude" and the inflection gives meaning.
  • 1998 - The Big Lebowski, featuring Jeff Bridges as "The Dude (or His Dudeness, or Duder, or, you know, El Duderino, if the speaker is not into the whole brevity thing)," an aging hippie/beach bum turns "Dude" into a way of life and a philosophy.
  • 2000 - Dude, Where's My Car?, features Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, as two young men or "dudes" who lose their car.
  • 2001-2003 - The phrase "Dude, you're getting a Dell!" enters mainstream culture in the US thanks to a highly successful ad run by PC maker Dell Inc., featuring the late-teen to early 20's character named Steven, popularly referred to as the Dell Dude.
  • 2004 - Hugo "Hurley" Reyes' catchphrase on the TV show Lost is "Dude", over the first 3 seasons he said "dude" nearly 200 times.
  • 2008 - Bud Light airs a respected ad campaign where the dialogue consists entirely of different inflections of "Dude!" and does not mention the product by name.

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Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Beau Brummel, beau, blade, blood, boulevardier, buck, chap, clotheshorse, coxcomb, dandy, exquisite, fashion plate, fellow, fine gentleman, fop, fribble, gallant, guy, jack-a-dandy, jackanapes, lady-killer, lounge lizard, macaroni, man, man-about-town, masher, popinjay, puppy, spark, sport, swell
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