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When Director of Admissions, Scott Mitchell, overheard two 8th grade girls having a conversation in which they referred to each other as 'dude' ,  he interupted.  Doesn't 'dude' mean 'guy'?  he asked.  Liz, one of the participants started to answer but it was time to change classes.  Give me 500 words on that by tomorrow, he joked. The next day Liz came in with the following essay.

The Meaning of the word ‘Dude’  by Liz,  8th grade

    Over the years the language around us has changed. Words have gone in and out of use. One of the words that recently came into use is the word. ‘dude’.

    ‘Dude’ has been used for various meanings. The most commonly thought of definition is ‘man’ or ‘guy’. In the past this has been true, but now ‘dude’ has become genderless, and depending on how you pronounce the word, ‘dude’ will have many meanings.

    For example, if you were to call a friend across the room and say, ‘Hey dude! Do you know the answer to number four?’ - the word ‘dude’ would take on the meaning of, ‘you there’ or ‘person’ or ‘friend’. But if you say ‘dude’ in an irritated tone, extending the ‘u’ sound, it can mean, ‘you just annoyed me’ or ‘what you just said made me mad’.  In this way, it is used to quickly express someone’s current emotional state.

    If you say ‘dude’ quickly, with a sharp tone, it can be used in place of ‘stop!’ or ‘Don’t do that!’ This is using ‘dude’ as a slang expression. As the world becomes less articulate, more slang will appear, being short and quick and easy to use for coming generations.

    By saying ‘dude’ with a bored or dull voice, possibly with a roll of your eyes or a tilt forward of your head it can mean, ‘just give it up’ or ‘it’s not worth it.’ This also saves time and is an easier way to get your point across without hurting someone’s feelings.

    ‘Dude’ as a slang expression has come about in the last ten to twenty years, perhaps less. Slang has always been around, such as in the 70s, when any authoritative figure, such as a teacher, the police, the government, or even parents were referred to as ‘the man’. Other expressions, like ‘groovy’ or ‘far out’ or ‘psychedelic’ have been replaced by ‘cool’ or ‘awesome’.  All of these variations cover the same basic ground as ‘neat’, ‘fascinating’ or ‘what good news!’

    Sometimes there aren’t many words, or there aren’t many that easily come to mind, that can express the way a person feels. But ‘dude’ can take on a meaning from, ‘I’m mad’ to ‘This is exhilarating!’ ‘Dude’ is short, with a short vowel sound in the middle that makes it easy to shout out quickly. Imagine you are sky-diving. Falling through the air, it would be much easier to scream ‘dude!’ than to say, ‘I’m finding this quite exhilarating!’

    Another example is when a person is angry. By hanging your head, shaking it side to side slowly and saying ‘dude’ in a low voice, it shows you are at a loss for words. This also works if you’re sad about something.

    In conclusion, ‘dude’ is an all-around-works-for-anything-and-everything word that is commonly used by upcoming and younger generations. Why use so many words for so many emotions when ‘dude’ covers it all?  Get it straight, dude!