If the Springfield Republican is to be credited the word “dude” (pronounced in two syllables) is not a new one and is not of English origin. It has been used in the little town of Salem, N. H., for twenty years past and it is claimed was coined there. It is common there to speak of a dapper young man as a “dude of a fellow,” of a small animal as a “little dude,” of a sweetheart as “my dude,” and of an aesthetic youth of the Wilde type as a dude. But how the word attained so sudden and widespread a notoriety puzzles Salem. Its revival at New York is credited to a disgusted Englishman, who remarked, after visiting a rich club, that the young men were all “dudes.”
National Republican, April 14, 1883, page 4, column 7.
The recently famous word “dude” has been in common use in the little town of Salem, N. H., for the last twenty years. The people there apply the word to those bucolic swains who aspire to be the village fops. All such conceited and brainless young men are spoken of as “dudes,” the word being pronounced in two syllables. How the word became transported to the metropolis, and why it attained such a sudden popularity, are questions that a philologist alone perhaps can fully solve.
New York Tribune, April 16, 1883, page 4.