Semantic Shift for Dude

Something I have noticed but haven’t commented on is that the meaning of “dude” has shifted. In my generation and a little earlier, dudes were exclusively male, but by the time the critically acclaimed Juno was released, dude could be used as an affectionate term of address for females as well as males as in:

Juno: Anyway dude, I’m telling you I’m pregnant and you’re acting shockingly cavalier.
Leah: Is this for real? Like, for real for real?
Juno: Unfortunately, yes.

The usage of dude as male is still around as in:

I’m curious if a third person reference to female dudes is possible (e.g. “Dudes who are knocked up”). So far entering “dude” and “pregnant” has mostly turned up references to males including The Dudes Guide to Pregnancy: Dealing with Your Expecting Wife and, of course, pregnant males.

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