Guys… not…

I now hate the word:


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Hans says:

    Is there any particular reason for this sudden enmity?

  2. kelleyb says:

    don’t tell me another word has been hijacked by the pc crowd.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    Possibly was at a restaurant recently and witnessed the waitstaff greet a mixed party of men and women as “guys” and/or “you guys”?

  4. Ben Yanke says:

    We want to know! Why the sudden hate of the word, guys?

  5. GirlCanChant says:

    Good thing you don’t live in Philly, then.

  6. irishgirl says:

    Yes, we’d like to know why you hate the word ‘guys’, Father Z!

  7. digdigby says:

    and you Poles also incessantly women’s hands! What’s with you guys?

  8. digdigby says:

    That should be incessantly KISS women’s hands! What’s with you guys?

  9. meunke says:

    Come on, guys! Give Fr. Z a break. Perhaps he’s tired of it because some guys are given him grief. I’m not sure what kind of guys would do that, certainly not the type of guys we would hang out with, am I right, guys?

  10. teomatteo says:

    my thoughts on the useage of ‘guys’ is this…. when someone tells me that the term brethren is dumb to use with men and women i simply ask that if they have a group of people is it permissable to refer to them as ‘guys’? if they say , ‘well , it has morphed into both genders when in the past it only meant men, so yes meanings change, and sometimes in an eye blink.

  11. WGS says:

    Perhaps it’s the British anti-Catholic sentiment associated with Guy (Guido) Fawkes. On the other hand, whenever I see or hear “guys”, I think “Guys and Dolls”. Of course, in Philadelphia, it would always be “youse (or maybe youze) guys”.

  12. JohnE says:

    A simple typo and it becomes “gays”. Perhaps there was a recent embarrassing faux pas?

  13. Carolina Geo says:

    In the south, we bypass the problem of addressing males and/or females as “guys” by using “y’all.”

  14. Rich says:

    I find the word “guys” very helpful. Most of my students have a poor command of the English language, not to mention that for many of them English is a second language, or that they really don’t have a primary language given that there ability is any language is just as flimsy as with the next. So, when trying to use the plural “you” when talking to them many of them get confused when I say just “you” in thinking I am talking to one of them individually, and start looking around as they wonder who the heck I am talking to. Adding “guys” to “you” so as to say “you guys” helps a lot. Though it doesn’t sound like proper English, I think saying “you guys” is perhaps the most general way to modify the plural “you” so that people may tune in to the fact that you are addressing the plural second person. It sounds better than “you people” and my students laugh at me when I say “you all” given that this is California and not the South.

  15. Marcin says:

    and you Poles also incessantly KISS women’s hands! What’s with you guys?

    Yeah, it’s nice. But I don’t care much about it.

    I wish we Poles would regularly kiss PRIESTS’ hands, at least in ecclesiastical circumstances. The custom regretfully fell into disuse…

  16. Denis Crnkovic says:

    I’m not too sure of the source of this:

    Advent Rap

    Think about it:
    He’s the ring-
    leader, the king,
    always tame
    put us to shame
    at the root of it all
    up against the wall;
    He ha’ the key
    to what’s good for me
    and you,
    coming to do
    what he said before,
    knocking on the door
    in disguise
    so you can win the prize.
    Keep the prize
    in front of your eyes
    no matter what the size
    see what he do
    for us guys.

    I think there’s a “Christmas Rap” out there somewhere, too.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    He doesn’t like the word ‘cuz I said Colbert was a “guy thing”. In Iowa, everyone is a guy, teachers call their students, “guys”. It is a horrid, generic word now, like people.

  18. rakesvines says:

    One is either a lady or a gentleman. “Guys” legitimize socially, culturally and morally those who deny their gender.

  19. Thank you very much!

    1 (an English or French proper name;), possibly from It. Guido (?), e.g. St. Guido of Acqui (although the Fr. keep also Guide to name this Saint)
    2 an effigy of Guy Fawkes
    3 (derogatory) a person resembling a Guy[2]
    4 (informal) any person, usu. a man.
    5 (informal) any thing.
    6 ~-wire.
    7 to fool or thwart with guile.
    8 as in ~-wire: in complex structures, a stabilizing tension element, usu. against gravity. (corruption of “guide”? cf. Guy[1])

  20. thickmick says:

    I like using “guy” not guys as in “What’s happening, Guy?” or “Better luck next time, guy.” I think its pretty classy, guy.

  21. JARay says:

    I understand why Fr. Z has taken a dislike to “guys”. It is because it is now the way of addressing a mixed group without the differentiation that the old “Ladies and Gentlemen” used to display. It is part of the drive within the English language to avoid the “sexism” which actor/actress, prince/princess, tailor/tailoress, and such like words display. We do still have the differences between the sexes though. Women do not compete with men at tennis, at golf, at running, at swimming, etc., because the men would win! But, we are not to mention that are we?!
    So, we’re all guys now!!!
    I hate the word too!
    I never use it.

  22. momoften says:

    I understand your disdain for that. My grandfather would get upset with his daughters when they said kids…to which he would reply, kids are goats, I don’t think you should call them animals, they are children.

  23. digdigby says:

    MAREIN: “I wish we Poles would regularly kiss PRIESTS’ hands, at least in ecclesiastical circumstances. The custom regretfully fell into disuse…”

    St. Francis said, “If a village priest was walking by and an angel descended from heaven, first I would kiss the Priest’s hand and only then greet the angel.”
    -Kenelm Digby, MORES CATHOLICI

  24. DisturbedMary says:

    Especially “Hey, guys…” ?

    I would throw in folks, as in “the folks”

  25. ghp95134 says:

    My name is Guy (English pronunciation, not French) — and you do not know how often I’m asked, “…but what is your REAL name?”

    JohnE states: A simple typo and it becomes “gays”. Perhaps there was a recent embarrassing faux pas?

    Ahhhhhh …. memories of 1971 …. my senior high school year … the day we had a substitute homeroom teacher. As she read down the roll-call she paused, looked into the mass of students, and asked … “Who’s this …. this… GAY Power?” Thank goodness we had only a couple more months of school left; otherwise I would not have been able to bear the jibes … (AND that I was a 2nd degree black belt at that time) …

    Guy Power
    (YES … that’s my REAL name)

    P.S. A couple of years ago I Googled my name … and came up with thousands of hits — 99.999% of them having to do with associations of male loosers who sit in the woods beating drums … and jumping over fires, I guess (heck we did that in Boy Scouts) — supposedly to bring out the “primitive” male dormant deep inside. This soi-dissant “guy power”, I guess, in response to “gal power.” Sheesh. Well, I guess it’s better than being named Sue.

  26. Del says:

    If we can’t say “guys,” then we’re going to need a new word.

    Suppose Fr. Z and some g*** are gathered around the grill, cooking burgers and smoking a few cigars and pipes, and I drive up in my truck. “Hey g***, could one of you help me unload this cooler of beer off the tailgate? It’s kinda heavy!” [Fine, if they are all men.]

    We’re going to need another word.

  27. AJP says:

    Having grown up in the Midwest, I find the constant use of “guys” innocuous and amusing. From what I’ve observed, “guys” can be used to address a group of all men, all women, or both sexes. Teachers at my all-girls school would routinely say “you guys” when addressing the class.

    However the singular “guy” is always and only used to refer to men. Also the plural “guys” is only used to refer to mixed gender or all female groups when one is directly addressing a group that is present to the speaker – i.e., my high school teacher saying “you guys need to quiet down.” However if “guys” is used to refer to a group of people who are not present and not being addressed, then the group is always all male. If I were to say, “I saw a bunch of guys standing outside Portillo’s” then you should infer that the group of people that I saw consisted of men only.

    It’s simply the “vulgar” English of people in the Midwest. Obviously such usage isn’t appropriate in professional or liturgical situations. But in casual everyday speech, there’s nothing wrong with it.

  28. Margaret says:

    Good thing you don’t live in Philly, then.

    Or New York, where “youz guys” really is the second person plural. Really, youz guys.

  29. asophist says:

    From Wikipedia:
    … [a] guy is a tensioned cable designed to add stability to structures [etc.]
    I assume this is not the kind of “guy” Fr. Z hates. Hate is a strong word, but I guess it’s OK to hate a word. But why waste good venom on a mere word? OK, I see the fault of that reasoning: words are not “mere” kinds of things. They are how we know others’ thoughts (and often how our own thoughts are framed, too). So “guy”, used in the way Fr. Z hates it, can frame reality in a distorted (and thus potentially detestable) way. I don’t use the word in referring to any group in which women are present. When it is used by others to refer to a group which includes women, I consider that to be a faux pas. Modern usage, unfortunately, permits this. Modern usage also permits many other things formerly considered vulgar. But I try hard to avoid the Modernist (or neo-Modernist, if you will) heresy. This shows a practical application of the tenets of Pascendi Domini Gregis in everyday life :)

  30. danphunter1 says:

    Thats “Conception”

  31. MaranathaMaranatha says:

    Hey guys, how can hatred diguised under the guise of ‘guys’ based on the guys of such paltry explanations yeild more than 30+ comments? Too homonymous?

  32. worm says:

    Interesting. Hadn’t given it much thought before. I myself am guilty of using “guys” in the vocative case for both men and women. However, any other use of the word would suggest a group of men to me.

  33. albinus1 says:

    Or New York, where “youz guys” really is the second person plural. Really, youz guys.

    When I lived in Philadelphia, I remember noticing that everyone I heard from South Philadelphia said “youse” for the singular and “yiz” for the plural, and they were very consistent about it.

  34. Acolythus says:

    Or maybe he is just testing us to see how many jump to conclusions and judgments…

  35. Dean says:

    Hey, Y’all,
    When I was advisor to a group of girls, ages 12-|15, they were amused when I address the group as “Ladies”. I, in turn, was amused when they addressed the group as “You Guys.”
    This is something that is found mirthful by my Spanish-speaking friends. If there is a playground full of little girls, they are referred to as “niñas”. Should a little boy happen by and join them, suddenly the whole playground is filled with “niños”, effectively changing the sex of all, linguistically.

  36. Scott W. says:

    “I now hate the word:


    As you wish, dude. :)

  37. cyejbv says:

    Guys is tiresome, but let’s not be too hard on it… I recently heard the term “peeps”, which is ear-grating. (Note that this is evidently not a new term, but considering that I didn’t know for quite a while that “lol” wasn’t phonetic, you actually said el oh el, I feel consistent…if oblivious.) But I digress: Peeps is not only auditory abuse, it’s spelled wrong for what it is supposed to represent! At least guys isn’t guize. Anyway. For those of you not in the know, “peep” or “peeps” is not a verb, nor is it what our parents didn’t want to hear one more of from ANYONE, or the car was getting turned around, it signifies people, particularly one’s friends, my peeps, your peeps etc., but can also be used as a greeting, as in ‘Hey Peeps!’ Ugh. Though not as common as ‘guys’,
    what if it becomes mainstream and we’re asked at a restaurant ‘how many peeps you have tonight?’ rather than the current ‘how many with you guys tonight?’ !!? Double ugh! And definitely not an LOL occasion ;)

  38. cyejbv says:

    Scott W,
    your 4:05 post: I just LOL’d!!! Actually, I belly laughed! BLOL? Thanks!

  39. RLeon says:

    guys = males
    gals = females

  40. Aengus Oshaughnessy says:

    I never liked the word ‘guys’ myself. . . Although, I have to admit, when I’m addressing a mixed group of men and women, I automatically refer to them as ‘lads’. (ie. ‘you lads’, ‘everyone understand, lads?’, etc.)

  41. Jayna says:

    If nothing else, it’s better than “y’all.”

  42. ghp95134 says:

    Jayna: If nothing else, it’s better than “y’all.”

    HERESY!!! Anathema sit!! I couldn’t speak if “y’all” was proscribed!

    Guy Power

  43. Maria says:

    It’s very American.
    In England we are starting to adopt it because we have so much TV from the States.

    I notice lately many people are addressing ‘guys’ or ‘folks’ as ‘people’.
    For example “Hello people” to a groupd of ‘friends’ or ‘mates’ or colleagues.

    On reflection, how many alternatives are there?

  44. lizfromFL says:

    Y’all is a contraction: you all. Perfectly acceptable. :) I never gave much thought to “guys” though.

  45. samgr says:

    Classic Citizen’s Bank Park food stand question after multiple orders of (Philly) cheese steaks: Yiz guys all want Wiz wit?

  46. Cincinnati Priest says:

    I also hate the use of the word “guys” as a gender-neutral term of address. It was perfectly fine as a gender-specific informal word, but like so many things in our language, has been ruined by feminist tendencies (such as the execrable demand by NPR times to eliminate feminine morphological endings, and thus call actresses “actors” and waitresses “waiters” or, worse yet, “waitpersons” or “waitstaff”)

    It is also objectionable for its hyper-informality. For example, when I am at a restaurant with a group of other priests, all wearing Roman collars, I cringe when the waitress opens with a faux-cheery, “What do you guys want today?” [This in the Catholic sections of town where the only ones wearing Roman collars are Catholic priests.] I don’t mind “Reverend” or something similar from non-Catholics who may be uncomfortable with “Father.” Even “gentlemen.” But “guys” ????

    I agree with Fr. Z. Another subtle but unmistakeable sign of the demise of western civilization :-)

  47. HyacinthClare says:

    Do you think our illustrious Father wanted to see how far we’d go afield trying to figure out what he meant by what he said? Are you satisfied yet, Father?

  48. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Yes! What Carolina Geo said! And we also know that “y’all” is never used in the singular, it is only used in the plural. And being the kiss-up that I am, I will not aggravate Father by using the “g” word.

  49. Melody says:

    As others have mentioned, the colloquial use of “guys” to mean a group of any gender is actually a clever way to defend against the PC-crazies who want to change every instance of the word “men” to “Men and women” or some other random genderless pronoun.

    Thus, though it may be too informal for actual use:
    “for us guys and for our salvation” ^_^

  50. lousaint says:

    I’m also not a fan of “guys” for mixed groups, but I find that “you guys” is about the only available option for an unambiguous 2nd person plural in casual use.

    Oddly enough, I just ran into this last night. My internal censor blocked me from using “you guys” when asking a family we had over “Where do you live?”. Their four-year-old misinterpreted my intended plural as being directed only to her father and replied: “He lives in Bellingham with us”. I’m sure that “Where do you guys live?” would have been more readily understood (and actually feels more natural to me).

    Maybe I’ll just have to make an effort to introduce “ya’ll” or “y’ouns” to the PNW dialect.

  51. Faith says:

    “Guys” is the equivalent of “y’all” in the North. I agree with Guy Power. Think of an equivalent that we can employ for a group. “Youse,” “the unwashed masses,” “Dudes,” ….?

  52. marthawrites says:

    “What d’ ya know! A guy named Guy.” That was the opening line of a monologue, one of several ad libbed by Gabe Kaplan (Welcome Back, Kotter) in a very funny 20-year-old play called “Doubles” which takes place for the most part in the locker room after a tennis foursome’s weekly get-together. Guy was subbing for a regular, and Gabe Kaplan wouldn’t let it go. What the ubiquitous habit of addressing all members of a group as “guys” indicates to me is not that people have forgotten their manners but rather they don’t KNOW they’re being rude and undignified. So what else is new?

  53. Legisperitus says:


    I certainly hope our UK friends don’t start using “you guys” as a substitute for the quintessentially British “you lot”!!

  54. Harper MacDonald says:

    I’m with Father Z. on this one–the ‘G’ word is awful.
    However, in response to several comments about using male pronouns/descriptive terms for mixed groups, I have to say that I don’t mind. In fact, I like being referred to by male-specific words (ie. ‘lad’, ‘waiter’, ‘actor’, etc. etc.). I’m not one of those radical feminists that demands 100% equal representation in all things, but I just think it’s much simpler without having to call everyone ‘ladies and gentlemen’. (Besides, I really hate being called a lady.)

  55. jaykay says:

    “I certainly hope our UK friends don’t start using “you guys” as a substitute for the quintessentially British “you lot”!!”

    Well, they have done for some time, as it’s seen to be cool n’ casual, but in fact it’s not really the same thing. “You guys” is essentially friendly or neutral, whereas “you lot” has a disparaging tone, and is mostly used when one wishes to be slightly scornful or condescending (although it can also be used in a jokey way with familiars). Similarly one can refer to another group in critical tone as “that lot” e.g. “The Magic Circle? Oh, that lot!” where the stress is heavily on “that”

    One would not address a group of strangers as “you lot” e.g. in a situation where an American might say “can you guys give me directions to…” it would be seen as rude for an English person to say “can you lot give me directions to…”

Comments are closed.