The origins of "dude"

Allan Metcalf writes about research tracing the word “dude” back to “doodle” (as in Yankee Doodle), circa 1893 (interestingly, this makes the “dood” spelling you sometimes see the original).

Etymology is fascinating by itself, but what I found most interesting about this is how much the foppish dudes of 1890s New York City seem like the hipsters of today.

. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. …

New York Mirror, February 24, 1883

What is the dude, papa?” she said, with sweet, inquiring eyes,
And to the knowledge seeking maid, her daddy thus replies:
A weak mustache, a cigarette, a thirteen button vest,
A curled rim hat—a minaret—two watch chains cross the breast.
A pair of bangs, a lazy drawl, a lackadaisy air;
For gossip at the club or ball, some little past “affair.”
Two pointed shoes, two spindle shanks, complete the nether charms;
And follow fitly in the ranks, the two bow legged arms.
An empty head, a buffoon’s sense, a poising attitude;
“By Jove” “Egad!” “But aw” “Immense!” All these make up the dude

– Brooklyn Sunday Eagle, April 22, 1883

For more on “dude” and it’s role in today’s American speech, check out this short piece in The Atlantic.