Despite the fact that ‘dude’ was a word formerly used by surfers to talk to other surfers about waves, psychologists from UCLA have recently discovered that what was once casual beach bum slang is now reserved for specific moments in which a person is attempting to have the upper hand in serious arguments.
After an in-depth etymological study of the use of ‘dude’ amongst people between the ages of 20-30, researchers found that, while ten years ago the word was an informal term used amongst close friends, ‘dude’ is now only employed when someone is trying to make a serious point and needs the other person to be extremely focused.
“Our hypothesis that the word ‘dude’ was used in a lighthearted manner amongst friends was absolutely false,” says lead researcher Loretta Gordon. “The word ‘dude’ is basically a weapon that people pull out during intense arguments to throw the other person off their game. It’s now reserved for stoic moments only.”
Gordon and her team analyzed conversations amongst coworkers, family and close friends to get a sense of when and why people used the word.
“I am consistently talked over in meetings,” says Marla Francis, a participant in the study. “So one time I just turned to the worst offender, Victor, and said, ‘Dude, stop talking over me.’ He was very clearly taken aback. I didn’t realize how much pull the word ‘dude’ had but wow, now I get it.”
“My brother almost announced to everyone in my family that I’m pregnant,” says another participant Lucie Gonzalez. “I had to scream ‘DUDE’ to get him to stop talking and self-evaluate. It was the only way I could get him to actually shut up. But it worked.”
Another California-based study confirmed that surfers in fact still use the word ‘dude’, but only in choice moments.
“I mean, it’s kind of fallen out of fashion,” says Ned Brinkley, a Bolinas surfer. “I did say ‘dude’ once but that was just because my friend was blabbing on and on and there was a shark coming his way.”
No word yet on whether the colloquial phrase ‘yo’ has gained an equal reputation.