A dandy (also known as a beau or gallant) is a man who dresses elegantly and fashionably. He exaggerates his manners, including the way he stands and moves, and the way he speaks. He promotes himself. This is called dandyism. The word 'Dandy' was originally a version of 'Andrew'. The female equivalent is a dandizette.
I've heard my granny crack
O' sixty twa years back
When there were sic a stock of Dandies O.
The model, or archetype, of a dandy was Beau Brummell from the Regency period of George IVth. He was a friend of the then Prince of Wales. Lord Byron is also an example. The writer Oscar Wilde is another, later example. Less extreme versions were the American artist who lived in London, James McNeill Whistler, and the French composer Maurice Ravel. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a famous example from literature.
Today, in the 21st century, the word dandy is often used as a joke word to mean "fine" or "great".
- Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 1989. http://dictionary.oed.com. "dude, n. U.S. A name given in ridicule to a man affecting an exaggerated fastidiousness in dress, speech, and deportment, and very particular about what is æsthetically ‘good form’; hence, extended to an exquisite, a dandy, ‘a swell’."
- "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=dandy&searchmode=none. Retrieved 6 August 2010.