Trivia

Hard

Before Surfer Culture Adopted The Word “Dude” It Referred To What?

Fighter Pilots
Well Dressed Men
Newspaper Delivery Boys
Bulls
A portrait of Robert de Montesquiou from the late 19th century.
Giovanni Boldini/Wikimedia

Answer: Well Dressed Men

Ask a modern American-English speaker to pin down where “dude” originated from and they’ll likely guess late 20th-century California surfer culture. Not a bad guess, but a solid century too late.

The word first entered the American-English lexicon in the 1870s and referred to men that dressed very fashionably (with a secondary use to refer to well-dressed urban men who were visiting rural areas and stuck out, what we would now call “city slickers”). In fact, if you’ve ever heard the term “dude ranch” used to refer to a fancier ranch intended for tourists or a hobby ranch owned by a wealthier person, you’re seeing the word in its original use: a dude ranch is a place for well-dressed “city slickers” to go play cowboy.

That usage stuck until the early 1960s when the word was adopted by surfer culture. There, the term dude became synonymous with “guy”—and there was in fact a female version, “dudette”, in use—but by the 1970s, dude become unisex in usage.

Now when someone yells, “That dude is trying to break into your apartment!” they most certainly do not mean, “That very well-dressed gentleman”—although it’s always possible you’re about to be burgled by a man sporting a pocket square and an ascot.

Trivia

Hard

Which Planet’s Days Are Longer Than Its Years?

Trivia

Hard

The Jedi Archives Are Modeled After Which Earth-Based Library?

Trivia

Easy

What Movie Series Were The First Themed LEGO Building Sets Based Off Of?

Trivia

Easy

Patients With “Alice In Wonderland Syndrome” Have Trouble Perceiving?

Trivia

Hard

The Heaviest Military Tank Ever Constructed Was Nicknamed The?

Trivia

Hard

The Largest Mouth Found In Nature Belongs To The?

Trivia

Easy

What Were Hollywood Set Designers Employed to Camouflage In The 1940s?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Strongest Creature In The World, Per Times-Body-Weight Moved, Is The?

Trivia

Very Hard

Nevil Maskelyne Made Headlines As A Hacker Who Infiltrated What?

Trivia

Hard

Which Musician Has Made Multiple Cameos On Star Trek?