In Reply to: Re: What's up dawg posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 19, 2008 at 19:06:
: : My roommate says the phrase "what's up dawg" is an old cowboy term, or so he was told. I say it's just a ghetto slang that moved into the American mainstream. Does anyone know where it came from?
: Surely this is just a mishearing of Bugs Bunny's celebrated catchphrase, "What's up, Doc?" (VSD)
Alas, no. It is a coinage of the baggy pants set, and while I can't be certain that it didn't originate as you suggest, it has had a life of its own for several years. If it has a meaning, it's "chum." Boys of a certain age refer to each other that way (or used to), and "What's up?" is by no means the only phrase in which it appears.
There was an American television show a couple of years past in which a high school boy, pretty much shunned by the popular guys, wants to sound cool, and imitates them by using this expression. Unfortunately, he uses it with a female classmate, and is instantly classed as an enemy by the ruling female clique. The story was insteresting, but the gaffe that set it off was highly improbable. Even the densest boy realizes that "dawg" is said only by males to other males.