Guido x 2

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 23 21:08:49 UTC 2010

I don't know about Jersey Shore, but back in the early 1980s, as an ESL
speaker, I was certainly aware of friends joking about "Guido the
pimp"--the stereotype, not the character in Risky Business. And, yes,
Risky Business was the first thing that came to mind when I saw the
header. And the denomination, at the time, was certainly pejorative.
Because the period in question was 1983-84, it is hard to separate the
expression from the movie--whether the film reinforced the stereotype or
created it only the script writers would know. But it makes perfect
sense that the term entered slang (or became recognizes as such)
four-five years later.

Now, for "pimp": did the term evolve over the tears? An 1874 dictionary
on GB lists pimp (n.) as "a man who provides gratification for the lust
of others". Is this a euphemism or did the meaning really change?


On 1/23/2010 3:21 PM, Dave Wilton wrote:
> As someone who grew up on the Jersey Shore and who worked summers on the
> Seaside Heights boardwalk, I've been familiar with the term for decades. (I
> haven't seen the MTV series yet, since I don't have cable--but the DVDs are
> in my Netflix queue for when they're released.)
> Tony Manero is certainly the ur-Guido, but "Saturday Night Fever" predates
> the term "Guido" by at least a decade. Jon Lighter's dating of the term to
> c. 1988 is dead on. When I left Jersey for the Army in 1985, the term (but
> not the type) was unknown. When I returned in 1989, it was common. And
> contrary to what Ms. Savino says, the term has most definitely been used
> pejoratively--there may be reclamation going on, but in the beginning it was
> definitely not a nice thing to call someone.
> Before the "Guido" there was the "bennie" (a term which is listed in DARE).
> I had a conversation with family members about the terms when back visiting
> the Shore over the holidays and there is definitely a generational split
> between "bennie" and "Guido." While they're familiar with the term, the
> under-30 crowd doesn't use "bennie." While older folks prefer that term to
> "Guido." Note that these aren't true synonyms. A Guido is a young man with a
> particular style of grooming, and most likely but not necessarily
> Italian-American. A bennie, on the other hand, is simply a vacationer, any
> sex, any ethnicity, any style of dress or grooming. To the residents of the
> Shore, both terms are pejorative.

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