Green’s Dictionary of Slang

attitude n.

also ’tude
[early use appears to refer to problems between individuals; in modern uses the assumption is that an attitude is hostile to the prevailing establishment status quo, although it may well fit happily into the complementary rebellious teenage standpoint. Thus the rap band NWA, Niggers With Attitude. The meaning shifted slightly f. negative, antisocial in the 1970s–80s, to haughty, pretentious in the 1990s+]

one’s whole posture towards society, its rules and one’s own place among them.

[UK]Thackeray Shabby Genteel Story (1853) 38: He was always putting himself into attitudes; he never spoke the truth; and was so entirely affected and absurd, as to be quite honest at last.
[UK]A. Smith Adventures of Mr Ledbury II 290: The small performer, imagining he was called upon to exhibit his histrionic powers, immediately struck an attitude, and began to enact what he termed the quarrel scene between Romeo and Julius Caesar.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 29 Oct. 8/2: [W]hen she threw the boiling hot mess over his manly chest and washed all the attitude out of him, he called her a little cat and stated he would ‘go for her.’.
[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 279: When we go outside the barber shop my pal struck an attitude.
[NZ]R. Finlayson Brown Man’s Burden 83: She mimicked, striking an attitude and rolling her eyes and finishing by poking out her long red tongue.
[US]W. Wilson LBJ Brigade (1967) 28: He does not speak to us, he reams us out with his attitude, he is disgusted.
[US]A. Young Snakes (1971) 51: You ain’t got no business comin on to me with that bad attitude of yours.
[US]V.E. Smith Jones Men 139: I had what you might call an attitude for a long time.
[US]M. Baker Nam (1982) 9: We were faster and our attitudes were better. We beat people on attitude.
[US]W. Safire What’s The Good Word? 79: Tude is short for ‘attitude,’ and means exactly that — mindset or outlook.
[UK]J. Mowry Six Out Seven (1994) 115: Says he hate skatin with it [i.e. a gun]. Ain’t that a bitch. Spect he gots a new ’tude about that.
[US]Da Bomb [Internet] 30: Tude; Attitude. She has a really bad tude.
[Aus]R.G. Barrett Goodoo Goodoo 253: Christ, he thought, has this sheila got attitude or what?
[UK]Indep. Rev. 7 Oct. 8: I was expecting an exotic, stoned poseur, full of flounce and attitude.
[US]F. Kellerman Stalker (2001) 36: Amory was lighter in his coloring, but also projected ’tude.
[US]W. Shaw Westsiders 155: Khop’s delivery is so much cooler than Herman’s. His voice drips with attitude.
[SA]Mail and Guardian (S. Afr.) Travel 3 Jan. 53: For those who like a bit more attitude and growl to their [bikers] machines, there’s the Lion Rally.
[US]A. Steinberg Running the Books 4: A book-slinger with a badge and a streetwise attitude.

In phrases

cop an attitude (v.) (also catch an attitude, get an attitude, give attitude, take an..., cop a ’tude) [cop v. (3e)]

(orig. US black) to take a negative stance on a given topic, to make one’s own position adamant despite prevailing opinions and pressures, to act in an uncooperative or angry manner.

[US] in Smith & Gay Heroin in Perspective.
[US]Aerosmith ‘One Way Street’ [lyrics] Don’t say I cop a ’tude it’s all forgotten / It’s just you’re much too rude your fruits are rotten.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 52: Myself, I didn’t want to know [...] ’cause then you got to take an attitude.
[US]R. Klein Jailhouse Jargon and Street Sl. [unpub. ms.].
[US]T.R. Houser Central Sl. 16: cop-a-tude To develop an attitude, esp a bad or hostile attitude.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 5: give attitude – be petulant, uncooperative: Don’t give me attitude.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 81: I had forgotten how frightening someone like Bobby Dean Steele, who had been copping an attitude of late, wearing an Afro and a pair of black gloves, must have seemed to people like them.
Imprint Online 12 Mar. [headline] Headstones cop a bad ’tude.
[US]P.H. Larkin Jr homepage [Internet] They all dress alike and cop this fuckin’ ’tude that their bikes are better than our bikes and what they want from a motorcycle is the only thing anyone should want.
[US]N. McCall Them (2008) 10: Afterwards [i.e. after sex] she’d light a cigarette, blow smoke rings [...] and come up with an excuse to get an attitude.
[UK]J. Fagan Panopticon (2013) 74: You have an attitude problem, Anais.
throw attitude (v.) (also throw ’tude)

(US campus) to act in an arrogant, surly, obnoxious manner.

[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 192: The professor asked me to leave because I was throwing tude.
[US]D. Burke Street Talk 2 25: She sure does throw attitude all the time!

SE in slang uses

In compounds

attitude adjustment (n.) [euph.]

(US prison) the administration of mood-altering drugs to a prisoner seen as disruptive; the physical subjugation of such a prisoner.

[US]Other Side of the Wall: Prisoner’s Dict. July [Internet] Attitude Adjustment: The need for drugs. Also, a physical act by officers, including use by electric shock (taser, stun gun).