pro-formal (?) nature of "guy"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 4 12:25:42 UTC 2012

 Though it doesn't add a great deal, see HDAS.

I believe I've posted a few supplementary items here over the years, but
they don't add much either.

The "freaky-looking person" sense applied to either sex.


On Thu, Oct 4, 2012 at 12:36 AM, W Brewer <brewerwa at> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       W Brewer <brewerwa at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: pro-formal (?) nature of "guy"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> LH wrote: <<< argument for the pro-formal (?) nature of "guy" ... singular
> "guy" . . . sex-neutral>>>
> JB wrote: <<<"guy" has become gender-neutral =85 refers to a group of all
> women>>>
> WB: How far has the feminization spread through the grammatical levels? And
> diffused through the Anglologue community? WB early 1970s, JB Sep 29 or 30,
> 2012. (Q1) Was _you_guys_ (colloq 2nd pers pl) ever exclusively male,
> before going epicene? Not for me; it was feminist use at UCB '70s. My
> Chapman says _guy_ refers to either, but esp. men fr late 1800s; _guys_ to
> women in address. {Aha moment: Holy mackerel, guy comes from Guy, a guy's
> name. Wow.} Now that I think about it, I say to my daughters, <<What are
> you guys up to?>> (no darlings), or to a man&woman couple <<What are you
> guys doing for dinner?>> But to a couple of men, to say <<What's up,
> guys?>> feels somewhat less appropriate; context requires something more
> macho. (Q2) Any attestations of _guy_ (masc sg) coming out as epicoene?
> (cf. LH's notes) <<Hey, guy, what's yer problem?>> (Only male in my
> idiolect. Idionym-proform cross-over?) How about babies? <<Oh, what a cute
> little baby, just look at this guy!>> (male only?  Maybe, if gender
> unknown? [Can we still refer to sex-unknown infants as <<it>>?]) (Q3) Any
> evidence of _Guy_ (masc idionym) being epicoenified, like Isidore, Joyce
> (subsequently inducing male epicoenophobia)? (Guy only male for me.)
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