Brendan Leonard’s “The Unlikely Origins of Outdoor Slang” is not only a fun read, it’s based on actual evidence, which is refreshing in any piece on language in a popular periodical (in this case Outside). Leonard is up on recent discoveries, correctly pointing out in his opening paragraph that “dude” “started with, believe it or not, Yankee Doodle Dandy, then was adopted by cowboys and dude ranches, then surfers, and now everyone else” (see this 2013 LH post). He continues: “The adventure lexicon is full of words like that, whether they originated in the 1800s or in the minds of the Wu-Tang Clan. Here are 10 important ones.” They range from “gnarly,” known even to this indoors type, to “sandbag” (“the act of grading a rock climb easier than it actually is”), which was new to me. As was “pitted”:
A surfing term describing when a surfer gets barreled, or rides the hollow center of a breaking wave. Made virally famous (but not invented) by Micah Peasley, the surfer who was interviewed in 2002 on a morning news show in a clip that later went viral, forever dubbing Peasley the “So Pitted Guy.” As Peasley so eloquently put, “Oh, brah, it’s just like … dude, you get the best barrels ever, dude. It’s just like, you pull in and you just get spit right out ’em. You just drop in, smack the lip … waapah! Drop down … swoopah! And then after that you just drop in, ride the barrel and get pitted, so pitted, like that.”
Waapah! Swoopah! Thanks, Eric!