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I find it interesting that in American English, one may refer to a close male friend as: buddy, bro, dude, pal, among others.

But some implications are not easy to see merely from dictionaries. I wonder if someone can say something about them. I am particularly interested to see the appropriate contexts to use those terms. For example, as a non-native speaker, I once used 'dude' in an online forum and people found it offensive.

I am also interested to know whether using those terms may cause females uncomfortable (I mean, publicly when there are females around).
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Dictionaries are not enough to tell you how to use a word. They are useful if you read a word: you read it, you check the dictionary and see three meanings. Only one of those fits the sentence. Now you understand the sentence. But most words have restrictions (not listed in dictionaries): each definitions says how it used in some sentences. Synonyms can be interchanged in some sentences. The word is polite and appropriate in some conversations, rude in others.

    To explain everything you ask in your post would require a lengthy essay. I'll give brief comments below, but you learn how words are used by reading or hearing people use them. Until you have seen a word used several times, do not use it. Don't use words you have only seen in dictionaries.

    When you said "dude" in an online forum, were you speaking to "a close male friend"? No -- if you have not met in person, he is not a "close male friend" you can use these words with. Also, some of them are only used in certain dialects, or by people of certain generations, and sound abnormal from someone else (because they are abnormal).

    No, these words are not offensive to females that hear males use them about other males.
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