The question is about the origins of the word "dude."

Here is the posted answer:

If you can find a really old dictionary, it's in there as an infected hair of an elephants butt. I looked it up in grade school because the teacher said it when I called him dude. Late 80's early 90's but it was St. Louis public schools so the dictionary looked like it was old back then.

This answer was flagged by someone for deletion. Now I'm doing reviews. My first inclination was to delete it, but now I'm not sure. Whereas this is a poor answer, I'm not sure it's that poor. Whereas this is clearly someone BSing, I'm not sure that's grounds either.

By the way, I did check a 1979 hardcover edition of Webster's New Universal Unabridged Dictionary and the word dude is not defined as an infected hair of an elephant's butt or anything of the sort. Moreover, another user left a comment about having checked a 1971 volume of the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary reporting the same, that nothing about an elephant's butt hair is listed as a definition for "dude."

So, is it kosher to click "recommend deletion" for this or not? Are we allowed to recommend deletion for no other reason than the answer quite obviously appearing to be completely made up? Do we suffer sarcasm for the simple fact that we can't prove that the answer is not sincere?

  • 3
    I remember that one, but I don't remember why I didn't flag it for deletion. Maybe I had an inexplicable attack of tolerance. We should be very intolerant of VLQ posts from unregistered 1-rep users. The comment that the definition did not appear in a dictionary of the time should have made me kill it. No, I don't think we should tolerate BS. Jokes in comments...fine. Jokes in answers...no. And let's get rid of the Coup de Grace answer in english.stackexchange.com/questions/300015/… And let's discourage editing of rubbish.
    – ab2
    Jan 17, 2016 at 17:52
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    The answer in question (at english.stackexchange.com/questions/242515/…) isn't all that different from the first answer, which I think gives it some cover and may elicit some sympathy for it. But it's different in one crucial way: whereas the first answer simply confirms that schoolchildren in parts of the U.S. have been passing around the elephant-hair explanation for at least three decades; the second asserts that there is legitimate documentation to back it up, if you find the right "old dictionary." I vote delete.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:27
  • @ab2 : Thanks for the comment. I'll take what you said under advisement, i.e., I'll move to delete it. BTW, I'm sorry to report that I already let the coup de grace answer slide, otherwise I'd back you up. I don't know why I let it slide. I was in a mood. It struck me as funny. Plus, I thought the original question was more of a survey than a legitimate question, so I didn't expect any of it to survive much less thrive as it has. Go fig. Jan 17, 2016 at 18:27
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    @Sven Yargs : Thanks. Finding "the right old dictionary" is the rub. But then I realized the answerer's allegation about finding it in an old dictionary, albeit 30 some years ago, isn't at all too different than me saying I found the opposite was true in my old dictionary. That's what made me shy from pulling the trigger on that bad boy. I know it's BS, but I can't prove it's BS, and we can't go around deleting answers we simply don't agree with. We also can't prove the answerer didn't in fact see it in a dictionary when he was in junior high. Thus, my quandary. Jan 17, 2016 at 18:30
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    Except that you identified your old dictionary in a more specific and confirmable way than "[in an old dictionary used in] St. Louis public schools." That's not a citation; it's an alleged memory.
    – Sven Yargs
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:33
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    It's actually too bad that the answer was not correct; it would have cut off the "Is dude gender neutral" questions.
    – ab2
    Jan 17, 2016 at 18:42
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    The solution is to close the question, so no one else can post a nonsensical and uncredited answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 17, 2016 at 19:11
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    @Sven Yargs : Alleged memory. Well put. Hit the nail right on the head. Jan 17, 2016 at 20:02
  • BS always stands tall, but "origin uncertain" is a sure sign that the dictionary's editor gets his paycheck for nothing and needs his ass kicked.
    – Ricky
    Jan 17, 2016 at 23:58
  • The other answer is just as bad. Both are mildly comment-worthy (barely good enough for US) but are not answers for here.
    – Mitch
    Jan 22, 2016 at 21:09
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    This question belongs on Mi Yodeya. Jan 30, 2016 at 1:57
  • Is the word kosher offensive? This is new to me.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 1, 2016 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


You can click the button in that situation, it's not wrong.

I would recommend that, instead or as well, you comment and downvote, to explain that unsubstantiated half rememberings aren't helpful as answers and ask that they find a reputable source to back their fallible memories from decades ago.

Obviously be more tactful than that.

Maybe something like:

Thanks for taking the time to answer. I haven't seen this definition in any current dictionaries. Can you recall the name of the dictionary, or have you seen it used this way in a publication you can cite?

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    that's a total time waster for everyone involved not least the person you are responding to unless he uses it to extend his joke some more. so if that is not your intention your approach is flawed.
    – simbo1905
    Jan 26, 2016 at 16:20
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    It's fair to say that, unless the answerer states it as fact, "this is a joke" is opinion. Therefore it's better to treat something as incompetent rather than deliberately unhelpful. Jan 27, 2016 at 13:46

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