Category Archives: word origins

“Hey, Dude! Where’d That Word Come From?”

dudeHey, Dude, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad song and make it better . . .

If you recognized those as the first words of a popular Beatles song, then you likely spotted the error. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote  Hey Jude to comfort Lennon’s young son, Julian, during Lennon’s divorce from Julian’s mother, Cynthia—ancient history! Had they written Hey Jude today, they might have called it “Hey Dude!”

The word “dude” pops up everywhere these days.

In America, it first became popular in the 19th century when it described fashion-conscious men who dressed and acted like wealthy Europeans.

“Hey, look at that dude!”

EKD_18th Century Fashion Plate 108From the New-York Mirror of February 24, 1883:

“. . . a new and valuable addition has been made to the slang vocabulary. … We refer to the term “Dood.” For a correct definition of the expression the anxious inquirer has only to turn to the tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod, vapid youth who abounds in the Metropolis at present. …

As the American West evolved and Easterners, “city slickers”, moved west, the word “dude” described a man from the city, clueless about country life.

By the early 20th century, former dudes saw a business opportunity providing vacationing dudes from the East with a country/cowboy experience, and the term “dude ranch” was born.

Fast-forward through the first half of the 20th century to the early 1960s, and you’ll find the word attributed to someone carefree and laid back. “Surfer dudes” hung out all day at beaches working on their tans and riding the waves.


This casual, laid back image of a “dude” persisted throughout the 20th century, mostly used by guys to greet and refer to each other in an informal way.

Then in the 21st century, the word came full circle and regained the same level of popularity it had in the early 1800s. Today everyone uses it, men, women, kids . . .

Dude. Dude? Dude!!!

What does it mean?
Is it a statement? A question? An exclamation?
You decide.


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Filed under fun with words, Uncategorized, word origins, words

Thanksgiving Words and Their Stories

I won’t be blogging until after the holiday, but in the meantime I’ll leave you with the origins of a few common Thanksgiving words. Use them to impress your family and friends.


Pilgrim. The word “pilgrim” can be traced back through French and Latin to mean foreigner. The pilgrims who left England were foreigners known as“Puritans” because they wanted to purify the Church of England from its many rituals. []

Indian Corn. Native Americans taught the pilgrims how to grow different varieties of corn, not just yellow corn, but red, blue, pink, black, spotted, banded, striped . . . This colorful and decorative corn became known as Indian Corn. []

Cornucopia. The word “cornucopia” is from two Latin words “cornu” and “copia” meaning horn of plenty. The idea of a horn of plenty comes from Greek mythology. The horn was that of the goat nymph, Amalthaea, whose milk was fed to baby Zeus. In time, the cornucopia became a symbol of abundance. []

Wishbone. The word’s origin is uncertain, but the concept of snapping a turkey’s wishbone might date back to the Etruscans, an ancient Italian civilization that used chicken wishbones to foretell the future. This practice was known as “alectryomancy” which can be loosely defined as rooster divination[]

Turkey. Before the turkey got its name here in America, it was known as “gallina de la tierra” — land chicken—and, most likely, Columbus’ crew named it. When the pilgrims arrived, they were confused because in England the bird was called a turkey, possibly because it came to England via Turkish explorers. []

Not so common is the word “Thanksgivikkuh“. Oxford Dictionaries listed this as a contender for its 2013 Word of the Year. The word means the rare convergence of the first day of Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving Day. Last year, 2013, was a Thanksgivikkuh year. []

Sarah-Josepha-HaleAnd did you know that our American Thanksgiving holiday is because of an editor and author?

Sarah Josepha Hale was a 19th-century poet and magazine editor, (and you know her work! She wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb”). Sarah believed that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday, like the Fourth of July. She petitioned the government for almost 40 years asking them to officially declare a Thanksgiving Day. It was Abraham Lincoln who finally set the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving, and in 1941 America’s Congress made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday.

So, thank you, Sarah Josepha Hale, for a day off to eat turkey and give thanks.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for you, my readers. I’m grateful that you take time to stop by and read my posts, grateful for your visits to my Facebook Fan Page and my web page, and grateful to count you as my friends.

I wish you and yours a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I’ll see you back here in December.

(You might also enjoy “Guess Who’s Coming to my Thanksgiving Dinner.”)


*NOTE: Any ads appearing in this post were not put there by me nor do I endorse them. WordPress sometimes posts ads in exchange for hosting this free blog.


Filed under thanksgiving, unusual words, word origins, words