It’s not quite clear how a ленивый (lazy) but весёлый (cheerful) character performed by Jeff Bridges in the film “Большой Лебовски” (The Big Lebowski) of Joel and Ethan Coen that was released in 1998, has earned so much popularity. But the drunkard, easy-going fan of bowling became an almost perfect symbol to the slang word “dude”.
It quickly became a cult film around the world and Russia was no exception, and цитаты (quotes) from the film are numerous.
Among the many reasons he became so popular in Russia, is the fact that we have совершеннейшей эквивалент (a perfect equivalent) for the word dude, this simple guy with no definite occupation, fun loving and always ready to get the most out of everything: Чувак. As the name given in Russian to the hero of the film.
In Russia the word Чувак (dude) became popular in the 1960’s, during the political хрущёвской оттепели (thaw under Khruschev), which can be considered as the Soviet “free love” and celebration period in comparison to the hippy movement that occurred during those years in the West.
Nowadays, it is a quite acceptable manner to address each other among young people, when they are part of a familiar group, but it’s considered impolite to use it with newcomers. So, it is not unusual to hear someone asking a close friend: «Эй, чувак, как насчёт пивка?» (Hey, dude, how about a beer?)
Russian language is not without reason called “великим и могучим” (great and mighty). Unlike in English, where the word dude is used exclusively by men, Russians have a feminine equivalent of this word: Чувиха.
However, using this word to call a girl, even if she is a close friend is not recommended. If your male friends, in most cases, will respond positively to that name, saying to your female friend “Эй, чувиха!” might not all be received with a friendly smile.
Indeed though the etymology of word is not known precisely, its origin being covered in the mist, the most radical explanation tells us that originally the word “dude” meant a кастрированный баран (castrated ram).
However, today no one takes it in that context. Actually, even more than “dude”, the young generation uses the abbreviation “чуви” which can easily be interpreted as a reference to the popular character of the film “Звёздные войны” (Star Wars), Чубакке (Chewbacca), and shorten as a nickname for friends as Чуи (Chewey).