I’m reading Fifty-Nine in ’84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had by Edward Achorn, which is not in and of itself LH material (though a fascinating look at the rough world of late-nineteenth-century baseball), but the end of a paragraph about the city of Providence on p. 175 introduced an amusing word:

But the Bowery was not the only neighborhood contributing to Providence’s reputation as a haven for lawlessness and illicit enjoyments. Far smaller than New York and Boston, Rhode Island’s capital functioned as a jumping-off place for railroad travelers between the bigger cities. Because of that, one contemporary newspaper correspondent noted, the city served as a “rendezvous of the wayward,” including men and women who were not exactly married to each other. … As the reporter observed: “You may go to New York, Boston or Philadelphia, but if you wish to see full fledged, simon pure dudes and dudines you must come to the edge of the Narragansett.”

It turns out “dudine” was a fairly common word in the 1880s and ’90s, to judge by the examples given here; it’s interesting that a century later, when the need was again felt for a feminine equivalent of “dude,” American youth turned instead to “dudette.”

This bit from p. 183 is more of a dumb joke than a language-related tidbit, but it gave me a chuckle, so I pass it along:

While Radbourn was working that afternoon, the real world intruded via the park’s scoreboard, with news posted by hand in big letters: New York governor Grover Cleveland had been nominated for president at the Democratic convention that afternoon in Chicago. … Meanwhile, according to a story making the rounds in Louisville, someone asked the notoriously ill-read slugger Pete Browning whether Cleveland would win. “Certainly not,” he replied learnedly. “Neither Cleveland nor Chicago has any chance to win. The fight is between Boston and Providence.”



  1. I take it the book gives his win total as 59? I recall there being some dispute over the precise number.

  2. Apparently dudess was not unheard of.

  3. I think we, the Hattic community, should declare that baseball is always on-topic here at Language Hat. (waves hand) With the kind consent of our host, to be sure.

  4. komfo,amonan says

    Wikipedia claims that Hoss relieved and finished a game that season & was credited with a win by the official scorer, but that by today’s rules he would get a save rather than a win. So, 60 wins at the time, 59 with the adjustment. No source is given for the assertion.
    Hoss has an entertaining Twitter feed, if you’re into that sort of thing.

  5. “Dude” has been thoroughly unisexed at this point, at least so thinks this Californian. And a useful word it is too!

  6. I’m interested in dude gender (hard to get this information when you’re living abroad). I’ve heard “dude” referring to women and thought it was generally unisex now, not only in California. Any anecdotal evidence? Does it depend more on the speaker or the girl/women deemed a dude?

  7. Wikipedia link: 1883, New York slang for “fastidious man, fop”, originally a term of contempt. Probably from a shortening of Low German dudendop, dudenkop, dudeldop (“a lazy fellow”), related to Eastern Frisian dudkop, duddekop (“a blockhead or drowsy fellow”), German Dude (“a foolish fellow”), Eastern Frisian dudden (“to be drowsy”). See dawdle.
    What about Duden, is the dictionary name somehow cognate? According to my English & German dictionary (Pons-Collins, a terrific one), Dudelsack is the German (m. plural) for bagpipes.
    It’s odd how words like dude & guy, chap & bloke, never crossed the Atlantic. Why is that? “Guy” finally made it to Britain in the 1980s, I think.
    mab, I haven’t got anecdotal evidence but surely words like dudette and dudine would only be used ironically, as a joke. Yes I have: I can’t imagine Jeff Bridges’ female equivalent ever being called the dudette.

  8. “Dude” can be neutral like guy/chap/bloke, or it can be disparaging in various senses (of course, different senses in different places and times), or it can be a jauntily respectful term of address.
    I recall hearing long ago about a clash between (1) the Western US “dude” as term of contempt for Eastern or urban know-nothing and (2) the neutral “dude” meaning guy/bloke/chap which seems to have sprung up (again?) in the 1960’s.
    The year: 1972 or so
    The doorbell rings at a house full of young people in Colorado.
    Occupant #1: “Who is it?”
    Occupant #2: “It’s the dude from the electric company.”
    The man’s feelings were hurt. He’d never been called a dude before.

  9. dearieme says
  10. Hmm. Does that mean I can call a waitress a garçonette?

  11. Naveed: Yes, and that’s my one beef with the book. On p. 209 he explains that Cyclone Miller was pulled after five innings, the Grays pulled ahead in the top of the sixth, whereupon Radbourn took the mound; he used to be credited with the victory (as in, for instance, the august Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia), but the author “reluctantly” sides with those who “say that a reasonably consistent standard of scoring games would give the win to Miller.” Damn your consistency, say I; I grew up with Old Hoss being a sixty-game winner, and that’s what he should be!
    dearieme: Thanks, looks interesting.

  12. michael farris says

    I’m out of touch but singular ‘dude’ to me can only be male and dudes strongly trends male (I have a hard time imagining using it about a mixed group even).
    Dudes is has a much stronger male vibe to me than guys.
    I’m trying to mentally imagine a woman addressing an all female group as ‘dudes’ and failing. On the other hand I’ve heard all female usage with guys (only plural).
    I’m not saying dude isn’t used in the singular or plural just that I’m not at all familiar with such usage and it sounds jarring to me. But not living in the US means I’m not privy to a lot of modern usage.
    I’m thinking that (for me) dude isn’t as semantically empty as guy and some of the semantic characteristics I’d associate with dude (especially being laid back and kind of clueless about life management issues) are not as negatively evaluated in males as they are in females.

  13. Crown: What about Duden, is the dictionary name somehow cognate?
    Duden is named after Konrad Duden, who wrote the lyrics.
    Dudelsack is the German (m. plural)
    It’s singular: der Dudelsack. And it derives from the Turk, not the Scot:

    Dudelsack, der [zu poln., tschech. dudy = Dudelsack

    German Dude (“a foolish fellow”)
    Never heard or read it, no entry in Duden. The claim may be spurious. For “a foolish fellow” there’s der Dussel.

  14. michael: some of the semantic characteristics I’d associate with dude (especially being laid back and kind of clueless about life management issues) are not as negatively evaluated in males as they are in females.
    A negative evaluation of females in this respect would be inaccurate. I have found to my naive astonishment, at an advanced age, that in fact wimmin are generally far from being clueless about LMIs. (Though I say so myself, who am in no way partial to females).

  15. Correction, Crown:

    Dudelsack, der [zu poln., tschech. dudy = Dudelsack < türk. düdük = Pfeife]

  16. For “a foolish fellow” there’s der Dussel

  17. No, Düsseldorf’s named after the River Düssel.
    I saw this in the Tyskewiki:

    Düsseldorf ist eine der wenigen Städte in Deutschland, deren Lichtsignalanlagen für Fußgänger über eine separate Gelbphase verfügen. Hier wird das Gelbsignal durch einen rechteckigen gelben Balken gekennzeichnet. Während dieser Zeit haben die Fußgänger die Möglichkeit, die Kreuzung zu räumen, ohne – wie in anderen Städten – gegen Rot laufen zu müssen. Unmittelbar nachdem das Fußgängersignal von Gelb auf Rot wechselt, wird die Freigabe für den Querverkehr eingeleitet.

    Is Kant to blame for this sort of thing?

  18. Kant is to blame for everything, him and his Dravidian hordes.

  19. Haven’t heard much about Dravidia recently. Kant and the Dravidians must be John Emerson’s bailiwick.

  20. Grumbly, maybe Michael meant to say that those who see cluelessness as kind of a cool positive thing in a male might see it as not so cool in a female.

  21. You baseball fans might be interested in this scientific breakthough in scheduling how umpires are chosen for the 2340 Major League games each season, here.

  22. Also it’s only the dude who’s clueless, not just any old dude.

  23. Thanks, Paul, that’s quite interesting (though at first glance I thought you were talking about the Major League games of the 2340 season, which would have been even more interesting).

  24. michael farris says

    “Michael meant to say that those who see cluelessness as kind of a cool positive thing in a male might see it as not so cool in a female”
    Pretty close, but it’s stronger than cluelessness. Imagine the Jeff Bridges character in Big Lebowski being played by a woman and it’s …. not a comedy any longer (or not one where the audeince wants the character to not change).
    Of course it is possible that in some yougner dialects dude is basically becoming as semantically empty as guy.

  25. I believe that “dude” in my 70’s Colorado example (“It’s the dude from the electric company”) meant no more than “guy”. I take that to represent a semantic bleaching of a stronger 60’s sense of “dude”. Somehow by the time of Lebowski the word had gained some new strength.

  26. komfo,amonan says

    Hm. ‘Dude’ in reference to women is to me a somewhat recent (15 yrs, USA) phenomenon, & restricted mostly to the vocative. So I can say to a female friend Dude, what are you talking about?, but I would not say of her to a third party *I have no idea what that dude was talking about. Also, any negative connotations of ‘dude’ (city slicker, Lebowski) are non-existent in my circle.
    When I lived in Scotland 20 years ago, the locals found vocative ‘dude’ (to men) highly amusing.

  27. “Dudek” = the Polish word for the hoopoe. Also, apparently a slang term for a simpleton or “sucker”. Jerzy Dudek, Polish goalkeeper who has played for Real Madrid and Liverpool. Name kind of translates as “George Hoopoe”.

  28. The Latin designation for the hoopoe is Upupa epops, which is really sweet. At least I think I know how to pronounce that, unlike the case with “hoopoe”.

  29. Also, apparently a slang term for a simpleton or “sucker”.
    “Dupe” may be related to “hoopoe”.

  30. The Hoopoe Upupa epops is a dude.
    Hoopoe must be “HOOP-oh”, G. Or could it be German?

  31. “HOOP-oh”
    I thought so, too, but no: It seems to be “HOOP-oo” (or maybe “HOO-poo”?)
    A little Google translate experimentation shows that the Germans and the Scandinavians use boring words of the form “—-head” instead of cognates of “upopa”, and that the modern Greeks no longer say “epops”, either.

  32. the modern Greeks no longer say “epops”, either.
    Well, my Oxford Dictionary of Modern Greek gives έποψ as the first listing for “hoopoe” (which, yes, is pronounced HOO-poo). Of course, it’s probably a katharevousa term that people write rather than say, so you’re correct in that sense.
    Oddly, there’s no Greek Wikipedia article on the bird, although there are articles in Alemannisch, Aragonés, Azeri, Bavarian (“Boarisch”), Chuvash, Erzya, Faroese, Upper Sorbian, Ossetian, North Friesian, Picard, and Zazaki, inter alia.

  33. The word they use in speech is τσαλαπετεινός [tsalapetinós], which is from τσαλί ‘bush’ + πετεινός ‘cock’ (cf. French coq du bois).

  34. And I’ll have no low-minded equivocations involving cocks and bushes, thank you. This is a clean, family-friendly site.

  35. Mark Dunan says

    I too grew up thinking that Radbourn (Radbourne?) won 60 games in 1884 and was a bit disappointed to see his total lowered to 59 in the record books starting in the 1990s.
    I wonder how many other games saw winning and losing pitchers changed due to modern rules about who gets the decision (basically, whoever is pitching when the lead last changes hands, though there are exceptions for when a reliever pitches, as they say, “briefly and ineffectively”).
    Back in the 1880s, the starting pitcher finished the game close to 90% of the time, and needing relief was seen as embarrassing. So it’s not like the scorers had lots of agonizing decisions about who to give the win to. You could even argue that, in these days of multiple relief pitchers per game, it might be better to go back to the standard of giving it to whoever pitched most effectively overall.

  36. @komfo,amonan, re: women as “dudes”: I agree.

  37. Oh, yes, the existing notion of winning and losing pitcher is close to absurd. Say that you pitch 7 innings, giving up only one run, and your team wins 2 to 1. If your team has scored its two runs in the 6th inning, then you are the winning pitcher; if in the 9th, then some reliever is the winning pitcher.

  38. When a relief pitcher is evaluated, wins don’t necessarily count in his favor. Some relievers (closers) almost always go in when their team is ahead, so a win they get is probably because they gave up a run and then their team scored afterwards. So a pitcher with 30 saves and no wins is probably a better pitcher than one with 25 saves and 5 wins, even though a win counts more than a save when you tot up records.
    This isn’t a clear rule, but if you’re familiar with a given reliever and look at his record, the wins might remind you of some of his bad games.

  39. low-minded equivocations
    Onetime Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker was a master of oratory and parliamentary wit.
    The story goes that he once asked the speaker of the house whether he would be ejected were he to call a certain member of parliament an idiot. The speaker, of course, said he would be. Whereupon Diefenbaker said, “Very well then, I will not call the honorable member xxx xxx an idiot.”

  40. Michael, I think we expats are a bit out of the loop on “dude.” I have had the sense that addressing a young (?) woman as dude is pretty neutral these days. I wonder what the age cut-off point is.

  41. michael farris says

    “Michael, I think we expats are a bit out of the loop on “dude.””
    Sadly, yes. But, still, while I could (maybe) imagine using ‘dude’ as an interjection while speaking with a young(ish) woman* I wouldn’t have the feeling it was a vocative, it would be more like “wow” or “that’s tough!” or whatever.
    *actually I can’t imagine doing that and keeping whatever dignity I may have intact, I’m speaking very hypothetically.

  42. Don’t do it, Michael. You might as well put on a backwards baseball cap.

  43. Crown:
    Of course guy crossed the Atlantic! The American use is a semantic bleaching of 19th-century British guy ‘person of grotesque appearance, especially with respect to dress’,(OED), which in turn derives from the older sense ‘effigy of Guy Fawkes’.
    Here are the first four quotations of the American guy from the OED:
    1847 Swell’s Night Guide 41, I can’t tonight, for I am going to be seduced by a rich old Guy.
    1863 C. Reade Hard Cash III. xiii. 270, I wouldn’t speak to you in the street for fear of disgracing you; I am such a poor little guy to be addressing a gentleman like you.
    1876 L. C. Barraud 15 Oct. in E. M. Barraud Story of Family (1967) xi. 133 The little children are such cures, and the nurses seem to go out with the master and mistress. The little boys look great guys.
    1896 G. Ade Artie i. 3 You guys must think I’m a quitter.
    Only the last, I think, is indisputable; the others could be either the modern American or the older British sense.
    An eminent British visitor to our shores, I forget who, was said to be highly offended when an American newspaper, meaning to compliment him on his accessibility to the common people, called him a regular guy: he took it as a reflection on his dress sense.

  44. That’s interesting. Well, do you know anything about why ‘guy’ to mean bloke or chap vanished from English speech, only to return in the 1970s or 80s? When I was a child growing up in England I only ever heard it on television or in the cinema. ‘Cove’ with the same meaning also disappeared in England, although I subsequently heard that word commonly used in Australia.

  45. Cove was still around in Britain in the 1920s. Nancy Mitford has her father saying it, and it’s in PG Wodehouse too.

  46. HDAS antedates American guy—in the sense “a grotesque-looking, ill-dressed, or ridiculous person, esp. an old man; (hence) a person who is an object of ridicule or derision, (broadly) a fool—to 1840:
    1840 Spirit of Times (April 25) 89: And a precious Guy I looked in it, so the old ‘oman said.
    1840 Spirit of Times (July 4) 216: He was put up for Col. Freelove, proved a forlorn “guy,” and was hissed from the stage.
    Early citations for the current sense, “a man or boy”:
    1875 in Miller & Snell Why West Was Wild 492: She was finally gathered by a “nabbing guy” [policeman] … under charge of loose and “laskivious” conduct.
    1877 in Asbury Gem of Prairie [opp. p. 36]: Do you soak your feet in the old guy’s barrel of lightning? Hattie says you must, from the smell of your breath every evening.
    1882 in Nye Western Humor 85: The main guy of The Boomerang sanctum was putting some carbolic acid in the paste pot, and unlimbering his genius.
    1886 F. Whittaker Pop Hicks 3: Go and put the newspaper guy straight. Ibid. 9: Who’s the guy? Ibid. 23: I’ll go and see the guy, and find out what he means.
    1892 Norr China Town 41: Here were these guys going to let a good man go away for a few thousand dollars when Fitz had played in twice the money over their tables.

  47. “Grotesque-looking, ill-dressed, or ridiculous” sounds like the Guy-Fawkes guy that children in England lay on the sidewalk in the evenings leading up to 5 November (Guy Fawkes day) asking for money to buy fireworks. “A penny for the old GUY, please,” is what they say. It looks like a scarecrow but smaller and in the end it’s put on top of the Nov. 5 bonfire. I wonder if that’s where guy started.

  48. Oh, never mind, “effigy of Guy Fawkes” is what Cowan said. Silly me!

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