Dude, you've got to read this.

A linguist dude from the University of Pittsburgh has published a scholarly paper deconstructing and deciphering the word "dude."

The dude, Scott Kiesling, says the four-letter word has many uses: in greetings ("What's up, dude?"); as an exclamation ("Whoa, Dude!"); commiseration ("Dude, I'm so sorry."); to one-up someone ("That's so lame, dude."); as well as agreement, surprise and disgust ("Dude.").

The dude says in the fall edition of American Speech that the word derives its power from something he calls "cool solidarity" - an effortless kinship that's not too intimate.

"It's like man or buddy, there is often this male-male addressed term that says, 'I'm your friend but not much more than your friend,' " said Kiesling, whose research focuses on language and masculinity.

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Historically, dude originally meant "old rags" - a "dudesman" was a scarecrow. In the late 1800s, a "dude" was akin to a "dandy," a meticulously dressed man, especially out West. It became "cool" in the 1930s and 1940s. Dude began its rise in the teenage lexicon with the 1981 movie "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Source: The Associated Press

Hollywood dudes

According to the Web site IMDB.com, here are some movies with the word "dude" in the title:

E "Dude, Where's My Car?" (2000)

E "Dude Cowboy" (1941)

E "The Singing Dude" (1940)

E "The Denver Dude" (1927)

E "The Dude" (1911)

E "Humpty and the Dude" (1903)

And don't forget Michael Moore's best-selling book, "Dude, Where's My Country?"

Stupid criminal trick

DOVER, N.H. - It wasn't exactly the perfect getaway vehicle.

A man took off on a lawnmower moments after he allegedly threw two Molotov cocktails at his ex-girlfriend's apartment building, police said. He was arrested Saturday night after a brief, slow-speed chase.

Steven Coleman, 37, of Dover, was arraigned in Dover District Court on Monday on charges of criminal trespass, attempted arson, and resisting arrest, a misdemeanor. But not exceeding the speed limit.

Source: The Associated Press

To contact The Rail, send an e-mail to features editor Dean Rhodes at drhodes@forumcomm.com and he'll forward it to the responsible dudes.

Today's best bet

"The Nutcracker," 7:30 p.m., the classic ballet performed by the Bonnie Haney School of Dance.

Festival Concert Hall, NDSU campus, Fargo