There are tons of terms that seem to come and go. In the 60s you had "Man" and "Groovy". In the 70s we were given "Dude", "Foxy", and "You know". Ahhh the 80s, it was then we were given the Valley girl, with terms like "Bitchn", "gag me with a spoon", and "Totally". Now some of these terms and lasted, and some have not. Recently we had the term "Bling". Which was popularized to the point where it became uncool to use it. MTV even had a small commercial where they officially retired it. I guess that's how most of these slang terms go. Why though? Why do some terms seem to endure and some fad away. "Dude", "Man", and "You Know" sticks around to this day. I'm wondering if it's because of who was expected to be using these terms. I remember in 6th grade my teacher hated the term "You know". He stated you could always tell when someone was being interviewed, if they were well educated or not, as they'd use this term frequently. He'd say, "No, I don't know, that's why your telling me". That may have contributed to some of these terms sticking around. They wouldn't be used that often in amongst the middle to upper class and therefore stay "cool". That and they were what I'd call soft slang. They weren't too overboard with breaking from normal speech, and now have been adopted into our everyday language. One in particular I can't wait to go away that is now becoming popular is "on Steroids". I'm soooo very tired of this term. You hear it all the time to describe things that have tons of features added or are overgrown, "it's like your TV on steroids". It's just getting used too much for me and now annoys me when it's used.
"Dude" though is different, and I'll tell you why. It's soo versatile. Which may be due to it's age. When writing this post, I was originally going for something completely different. When looking for good slang terms from different decades, I've found some things out about it. It seems to originate back in the late 1800's. Yes that's right, I put it in 70s, and that was because it became popular and used more mainstream about that time, but that's for later. It seems, and this comes from Wikipedia, "Originally "dude" meant a city person in the country, with strong connotations of ignorance of rural ways. It is believed the word has its origins in the Irish word "Dúd" (pronounced Dood, like mood), which means someone who looks or acts foolish or out of place." A term we refer to now a days as "City Slickers". It was actually a pretty derogatory term until the late 60s early 70s when surfers started using the term for more familiar purposes. Throughout the 80s the term became even more versatile. It crossed gender lines (although more in a joking manner as "dudette" and such) and began morphing, and now, depending on tone, it can be used in any part of a sentence and can replace very many words.
Personally, I love the term due to its versatility. Even more now that I know some of the history behind it. Then again who knows. In 50 years no one may be using it anymore and there'll be someone writing on how weird we were to use such a crazy slang term.