"Dude" from (Yankee) Dood(le) Dandy--(was: antedating of "sissy" 1879)

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Mon Feb 16 02:40:17 UTC 2004

>At 5:49 PM -0500 2/15/04, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>>Note significantly "Dood" in "Yankee Doodle" here--i.e., the origin
>>of the 19th century term "dude." (Barry Popik and I have done a lot
>>of work on this term).
>So it's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" in the song, > "Yankee Doodle" = "dandy", >
>"doodle" = "dandy", > "dude" = "dandy"?
>It seems believable. Is there decisive evidence? I don't remember seeing
>this derivation presented before.
>-- Doug Wilson

   A May 1881 article in _Clothier and Furnisher_, vol. 13, no. 10,
pp. 27-28 (spotted by Barry Popik; reprinted in _Comments on
Etymology_, April 1997, pp. 2-3 and then Oct. 1998, pp. 1-2) is
titled "Definition Of The Word Dude" and says:
   "...It is not exactly slang, but has not rooted itself in the
language and has not, therefore, a precise and accepted meaning.  The
word pronounced in two syllables as if spelled 'doody' has been in
occasional use in some New England towns for more than a score of
years.  It was probably born as a diminutive of dandy, and applied to
the feeble personators of the real fop. ..."


    From the above passage it looks like "Yankee Doodle Dandy"
produced a blend of "dood(le)" and "dandy" to "doody" in some New
England towns prior to 1883, with shortening to "dude" (one syllable)
by 1883.

Gerald Cohen

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