A linguist from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude," contending it is much more than a catchall for lazy, inarticulate surfers, skaters, slackers and teenagers.
Scott Kiesling says in the fall edition of American Speech that the word derives its power from something he calls cool solidarity - an effortless kinship that's not too intimate.
Cool solidarity is especially important to young men who are under social pressure to be close with other young men, but not enough to be suspected as gay.
In other words: Close, dude, but not that close.
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