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In online writing, such as on StackExchange sites, using the word "dude" is most likely unnecessary (it's obvious to whom a comment is addressed, and there are @mentions). What connotation does "dude" carry when included in a sentence?

Also, how does the meaning tend to vary if the writer is a native American English speaker, vs. non-American (e.g. Indian English, British etc.)

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    It's a term one might use, in a slightly jocular sense, when addressing a reasonably close acquaintance. Would not be appropriate for addressing someone less familiar, unless you were, in effect, scolding them, though. – Hot Licks Aug 3 '15 at 23:26
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    I learned the hard way to avoid it when I called a user here "dude" and they got upset. The user might be female and I didn't realize that at the time. – michael_timofeev Aug 3 '15 at 23:53
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    It can be a patronizing form of address. "Dude, give it up." "Dude, chill out." "Dude, you don't know what you're talking about." – stevesliva Aug 4 '15 at 0:33
  • @michael_timofeev In my circles, dude is almost unisex; much as the guys in you guys are ungendered; arguably, it was gender neutral to begin with. But see What is a feminine version of “dude”? and What is a feminine version of 'guys'? – choster Aug 4 '15 at 0:38
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    So, Choster if you were addressing a waitress at IHOP you would say "Dude, I'll have the dollar pancakes with..."? And if you were addressing a roomful of women you would say "How are you guys doing this morning?" In my opinion (and having been in the position of addressing a roomful of 200 women before) it's not ok to refer to women as dudes or guys. In that case, I used "Good morning, ladies. How are you doing?" – michael_timofeev Aug 4 '15 at 0:50
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Dude has really crept like moss in the past decade or so. As with most slang, it doesn't ask your opinion before it comes knocking, and it doesn't care what you think of it.

What I'm trying to say is, males in America will hear themselves called dude, whether by friends, acquaintances, or strangers (it's common even in business transactions, if you are both, say, 12-40). However, it will always have an intimate, jocular, and (I can't back down on this) strutting air. "I think I'm pretty cool, and I just might let you in my club"-- this must form some part of the dude-sayer's mantra. Sometimes it comes across as innocent and harmless. Sometimes it's terribly obnoxious, really because it's so artificial. Mostly, the effect of dude is to quietly point to one's hidden army: thousands of other dudes, just like him, ready to back him up and affirm how perfectly cool and acceptable he is.

I would say that that is the irking menace of dude in the online setting. If you are pretending to be at all serious, the only reason to call someone dude in a forum is to appeal for help to the Perfectly Stupid Code for Dudes, Nerd Edition, which will say, plain as day, that you are right and that he is--: but of course. Not cool.

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It carries almost unlimited connotations. Here is just a small sampling (short clip of stand-up comedy).

When someone uses it in a context like this, it is almost certainly meant to convey an ironic or tongue-in-cheek mood. Used here to introduce a sentence, most likely in a comment since those are less formal than answers, it is probably meant to warn the user (again, ironically) that something quite remarkable is about to be said, so prepare yourself.

I would say that if the writer is not American, that only guarantees even more that the meaning is ironical, since I believe America is generally the only place where the term is heard in earnest.

I don't think it's ever considered rude. It's just highly informal.

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    As michael_timofeev pointed out in a comment below the question, some might see the word as carying an implication that the one so addressed is male, and take offense at this assumption. – sumelic Aug 4 '15 at 0:05
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Go here for comedian Rob Schneider's explanation of the various meanings of the word "dude." It's all in the intonation, which makes it tricky for writing.

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