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A spide is a pejorative stereotype, in Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast, of a person who has a particular dress code and attitude. Spides are often young unemployed male adults.[1] The term predates "chav" (originally slang from south-east England, now widespread in the UK media) by at least a decade, and while the description is similar, it is not identical. The female version of Spide is "millie".

There are many negative perceptions associated with the stereotype. These include allegations that they engage in anti-social behaviour. They are also often seen as boy racers, who loiter in car parks and public places playing music loudly from modified cars with up-rated hi-fi's. Many wear Berghaus fleeces, fake jewellery, tracksuits (usually in light colours), white trainers and baseball caps (often fake Burberry.[2]) Many of them sport thin, unformed mustasches which are jokingly referred to as 'barcodes'.

Other slang terms for "spides" include "mokes" and "steeks"

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Origin of the name

The name is thought to have originated in the late 1970s and early 1980s. During this time "tartan gangs" were popular in Belfast. Due to the tartan patterns of their jeans, they gained the nickname "spidermen", later shortened to spide. While the tartan gangs of the time were closely associated with the Loyalist groupings of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Young Militants (UYM), the term spide is applied to youths from both the loyalist and republican communities, and appears to be wholly without sectarian bias. Spides may support the paramilitary organisations of their background, such as the UDA or IRA.

An alternative view is that the name originated as a reference to the tattooing of spiders' webs on elbows or necks before gradually gaining a more general meaning to cover young people from working class areas.

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