Trivia

Hard

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

Bulls
Well Dressed Men
Newspaper Delivery Boys
Fighter Pilots
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

Easy

Which Food Dye Is Made From Crushed Up Bugs?

Trivia

Hard

Ninety Percent Of Japanese Cellphones Are Waterproof To Survive What?

Trivia

Hard

To Aid In Maintenance Urban Planners In Melbourne Australia Assigned Email Addresses To What City Feature?

Trivia

Hard

Which Serial Killer Was Caught Via The Metadata In A Microsoft Word Document?

Trivia

Hard

There Is Only One Factory In The United States Devoted To The Production Of?

Trivia

Easy

Fireworks Originated In Which Country?

Trivia

Hard

Who Appeared On The Largest Denomination Of U.S. Currency?

Trivia

Hard

The Hubble Telescope Runs Off Which Of These CPUs?

Trivia

Hard

Which Iconic Sci-Fi Film Was Snubbed For An Academy Award Over CGI Effects?

Trivia

Easy

In The U.S. People See A Man In The Moon, But In Japan They See A?