from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Plural form of guy.
  • n. Persons, irrespective of their genders.
  • n. A form of address for a group of male persons or a group of mixed male and female persons.


Sorry, no etymologies found.



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  • Hmm. Interesting that nowhere on this wordiest of wordie words (?!) did anyone mention the *regional* bias of using "guys" to refer to a group of people of either (any?) gender. Yup. It's a damned Yankee thing. (See y'all.)

    Well... at least that's what they told me in rural Mississippi. See black dog. ;)

    October 12, 2007

  • When the first feminists appeared, they were intimidating to men, no doubt. Now that the feminist agenda of simple equality has been established, I think feminism has become less of a hot-button issue. I haven't had a woman complain when I held the door open for them or shown them other courtesies.

    Like reseetee I've used "guys" informally to refer to a mixed gender group. However I wouldn't think of using "gals" to refer to a mixed gender group. Curious, eh?

    June 24, 2007

  • "Language is a virus from outer space." --Laurie Anderson

    June 24, 2007

  • I’m not sure I would call feminist semiotics “frightening revisionism�?. It is one of many well-established theories on language as a cultural phenomenon. I highly suggest a great book that explains semiotics in an easy to read format. It was written by one of my former profs. “The Signs of Our Time�?, by Jack Solomon (Harper and Row). It was written in the 80’s and his examples seem a bit dated now, but the principles are easily applied to modern situations. Have a great Memorial weekend!

    May 25, 2007

  • Oh sure, I understand. My perspective isn't from my upbringing or religion, actually... it's more or less how one of my old Communication professors explained it, herself a feminist semiotician. She wanted to set the record straight that a number of (apparently prominent) groups are driven by an agenda that blinds them to real science. I think my professor had experienced a few run-ins with these particular "scholars" in her travels through academia, though her reaction may have been more personal than it ought.

    I guess the point she was making is the one I've absorbed: these groups do exist, and though they may not be the caricatures you find in comics, they do apply a frightening revisionist mentality to their research and activism. And of course, attempt to pass themselves off as "mainstream."

    May 24, 2007

  • The only feminists that want superiority over men are the Amazon archetypes you see in books, movies and TV. (I hate to bad-mouth comic books, but...)

    Semioticans are scientists who follow established standards within the scientific community. Some of them are involved with research from a feminist perspective. They are scientists, that's all.

    I am making observations and drawing conclusions on the use of language as it pertains to cultural, social and political influence. What's the point of "shunning" one language mode over another?

    Sounds like you had a bad experience with a feminist... or perhaps your religious upbringing colors your perspective? In any case, I enjoy discussing language with you!

    May 24, 2007

  • My understanding of feminist thought classifies the group into two subsets: The first, "mainline" feminism, is concerned with full gender equality, leveling the playing field, and compensating for whatever patriarchal advantages may exist for men. I'm right there with these folks.

    The second, "radical" feminism, is a much more antagonistic breed, seemingly with an axe to grind. Radical feminists don't want equality, they want superiority over men. It's this group that would seek to butcher well-intentioned man-made conventions arbitrarily; they position themselves at war with the male gender rather than in cooperation with it.

    I was only making the assumption, based on what you've written here, that some of these semioticians must be in the latter group. It sounds to me like your studies have suggested that "male" symbolic language as a whole should be shunned in favor of "female" language, simply because it's a product of the patriarchy. That's not just silly, it's radical. Though perhaps I misunderstood what you were getting at.

    May 24, 2007

  • Uselessness... your use of "radical" to preface the word "feminist" has got my attention. Many acute language scholars (for example)would identify themselves as feminist but not "radical". They don't even have to be female (I'm not).

    There are plenty of examples in the lexicon to indicate that language is biased towards the male. If that observation makes me sexist, so be it, but isn't that redundant?

    May 24, 2007

  • Well put. :-)

    I'll add that I think it's a big stretch to label one kind of "language" (or anything, for that matter) as 100% male or 100% female. Both men and women have contributed to symbolic language and the alternative alike. I'd even go futher to posit that suggesting one type of communication is more "masculine" or "feminine" than another is, well, sexist.

    Ultimately the tapestry of civilization is rich because of the combined contributions of men and women. I don't understand the radical feminists who would erase one part of that dichotomy; likewise, humanity would be much worse off with only men. What's wrong with coexistence? And that's not directed to you, samoritan, but to the semioticians you're studying. ;-)

    May 24, 2007

  • Uselessness, I appreciate your comments. As far as judging patriarchal language use as good or bad, I am an impartial student of language. I feel it’s umm… useless to make value judgments on language conventions that were being established before we went bipedal. Sorry if I gave you that impression!

    I am leaning toward the belief that no language is truly gender-neutral. An infant learns the “language�? of the mother first and then the dominant father’s language.

    According to what I have been reading and studying on this subject, semioticans posit that a “mother tongue�? would consist non-symbolic and a-logical soothing sounds and touches such as hums, croons, and caresses. A “mother word�? might consist of a combination of sounds and touches. Patriarchal language classifies and concerns itself with order and recording events. Matriarchal language is based on feeling and does not classify or record. These non-words are passed on to the nursing infant but are lost as the child grows and absorbs the dominant patriarchal language.

    Of course, attempts to gloss such a female-centric language is problematic; you can’t classify a language that wasn’t meant to be ordered. Doing so would bring it under control of the patriarchal language. This is similar to American Sign Language, a purely visual language, which looses it’s meaning when you try to gloss it, (record it by writing it down).

    You say you wonder if such a language would be practical. Regardless of whether a mother tongue is a true language or not, it is absolutely essential to the cognitive (including language) development of the infant. Research shows that babies deprived of this important sensory input suffer severe delays in developing cognitive growth (ex.Deaf children of hearing parents). In other words, without the mother tongue hard-wiring our brains at infancy, there ain’t no language. And we all wouldn’t be wasting time trying to impress each other by creating new words here on wordie.

    May 24, 2007

  • Oh U, I just don't know what to say about the "you NEED us" comment, except to tell you that I laughed out loud when I read it. ;-)

    May 24, 2007

  • stand


    May 24, 2007

  • What you said. I always mix these things up - mouth in my foot, hatching chickens before they count, etc.

    May 24, 2007

  • chetongueek?

    May 24, 2007

  • toncheekgue

    May 24, 2007

  • Good luck with that. ;-)

    May 24, 2007

  • parthenogenesis?

    May 24, 2007

  • Let me represent the men-folk for a second here. As cool as a race of telepathic superhumans would be, for example, a race of all women (as if), it's not going to happen. Just remember, ladies -- and radical feminist semioticians -- you NEED us. Biologically.

    May 24, 2007

  • What?! You mean you *don't* know how to read our minds???

    May 24, 2007

  • Sounds like a pretty radical camp of semioticians. I can understand the idea that much of language was made by men, but to pass judgment on it for that reason is silly. Language is intrinsically valuable apart from its origins; we'd be lost without it. I doubt that the supposed female non-symbolic language would be of much practical use, unless it involves telepathy or something. ;-)

    I didn't mean to play devil's advocate, but this is the kind of stuff I'm deeply fascinated by and seldom get to talk about. So forgive me if it sounds like I'm trying to rebut, when I'm really just thinking aloud (via my keyboard).

    May 23, 2007

  • Thanks for playing the Devil's Advocate, uselessness. It helps to clarify my muddled thinking! I'm really interested in word meanings that change over time; "guy" refers to a male but "guys" seems gender-neutral. It got me to thinking about my teachers comment. Can any word be truly gender-neutral?

    We had discussed semiotics is the science of interpreting signs and their codes (words) from a social and cultural perspective. A feminist branch of semiotics posits that all languages are patriarchal. Language springs from the male libido which names and classifies all things in order to bring them under conceptual control. Women have their own non-symbolic language which they pass on to their children. Unfortunately the knowledge of this language is lost to the infant who gradually learns the dominant symbolic language of the father.

    It's an interesting idea, and I'm not sure I'm fully in agreement, but it is certainly food for thought.

    According to feminist semioticans, "guys" can't be gender-neutral either. Oh well...

    May 23, 2007

  • I use "you guys" to refer to groups of men and women.

    May 23, 2007

  • Certainly words like mankind evoke gender bias, but what's so wrong with using people wherever you might use guys in your example? Isn't that equally neutral?

    May 23, 2007

  • I think what my teacher meant was that writers, consciously or not, will use gender specific language to describe people or events. The recording of history has been particularly susceptible to bias (his-story).

    I think the plural "guys" is an example of a word that is becoming gender-neutral. Have you watched "Friends" on TV? characters of both sexes refer to the group as "guys", even when they are talking about women.

    May 23, 2007

  • Not sure I understand the question. "Guy" is a slang term for a young man. I'd say that makes it pretty gender-specific. Though I'd think there are plenty of words that aren't... like, um, telephone or cauliflower...

    May 22, 2007

  • In a feminist literature class I once took, I was told that in the broadest sense, there are no words that are not gender-specific. I see this word on TV referring to both sexes. Is this an exception that proves the rule?

    May 22, 2007