- noun a man. The 19th-century American sense of dude as a ‘fop’, an overdressed city dweller, etc. (familiar from westerns and ‘dude ranches’) gave rise to a 20th-century black usage meaning first pimp or ‘fancy man’, then simply a (male) person. The term came into vogue in the 1970s and spread to Britain, where in 1973 it was briefly adopted by the gay and teenage milieus (appearing for instance in the title of the David Bowie song ‘All the Young Dudes’). In the late 1980s the word had again surfaced in teenage parlance, inspired by its continuing presence in black American street speech. Dude was originally a German rustic term for a fool.