A common term of address used mainly by American speakers, though its use in Britain appears to be spreading. The word is thought to be a corrupt form of ‘brother’, and is similar in use to ‘friend’. It is often used positively, as in The Island, by Peter Benchley, where a father consistently uses it to his son. In his autobiography Yes I Can!, Sammy Davis Junior reports on his attempt to use the term in a friendly way, and the response he obtained from a fellow-soldier: ‘Excuse me, buddy, I’m a little lost. Can you tell me where 202 is?’ ‘Two buildings down. And I’m not your buddy, you black bastard.’ The friendliness of the term may be accented by its extension to ‘old buddy’, as in Oliver’s Story, by Erich Segal, The Middle Man, by David Chandler, etc. It is also frequently extended to ‘buddy boy’. This is used by a taxi-driver to his fare in An American Dream, by Norman Mailer and by one man to another in St Urbain’s Horseman, by Mordecai Richler. ‘Buddy boy’ can easily become rather aggressive, as Peter de Vries indicates in The Mackerel Plaza. An American woman tells a man: ‘Listen, buddy boy, I’ll come and go as I please.’ There is friendly usage of ‘buddy boy’ in Funeral in Berlin, by Len Deighton. All forms of this term, ‘bud’, ‘buddy’, ‘old buddy’, ‘buddy boy’, are mainly used by men to men, especially when the man being addressed is unknown to the speaker.
   The latter is far more likely to be working class than middle class, unless the two men concerned are genuinely old friends.

A dictionary of epithets and terms of address . . 2015.

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