Sneering Eyes for the Word ‘Guys’

August 19, 2005 at 2:34pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’m starting a movement. A revolution, of sorts, one focused on a tiny pet peeve of mine. The mission: replace the word ‘guys,’ when used in certain situations, with a suitable alternative.

I’m not anti-guy so much as I just think it’s a poor word. It’s sloppy. It’s brusque. And it is arguably sexist.

The most specific example of inappropriate usage is when restaurant personnel refer to entire tables of customers as guys. “How are you guys doing today?” “What can I get for you guys?” “Can I get you guys some refills?” And so on. My wife is not a guy. Neither is my mother. Nor are we the server’s pals. We are happy to be pleasant and friendly with him. But he should not speak to his customers the same way he would speak to his buddies after a night of hard drinking.

You might be thinking, “Mr. Wilson, you’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.” Probably. I’m good at that. But why use a word like guys when there are other perfectly suitable words just dying to be pulled from the thesaurus, dusted off, and put to good use? In fact, I have just the one in mind.


That’s right, guys should be replaced with folks. (For you computer geeks out there that’s something like s/guys/folks/gi) It’s friendly, it’s pleasant, and it’s extremely Nebraskan. Some folks use folks already, and that’s great. I would like to encourage restaurant managers to deprecate use of the word guys by employees to customers. Then other businesses should catch on. Eventually, the demise of guys would be inevitable! Mwa ha ha ha ha! Ahem, sorry about that.

There are limitations to the word folks, of course. A police officer wouldn’t approach a group of troublemaking teenage boys and say “Pardon me, what are you folks up to this evening?” Nor would a group of guys watching a football game in a bar be referred to as folks; they are, of course, guys. There’s a qualitative di

fference between folks and guys. It’s really quite easy to make the distinction once you know to look for it. All I ask is that folks be called folks and guys be called guys. I’ve heard servers refer to 80 year-old men and women drinking coffee at Village Inn as guys, for Pete’s sake. If you think there’s nothing wrong with that you probably also think it’s ok to call the President “Head Dude” to his face. If that’s the case, I really can’t help you.

Remember, folks, change begins with you. Join the pro-folks brigade today and stamp out guys overuse!

Reply to this post

The Comments

shells August 20, 2005 at 5:56am

I’m right there with you, mr. wilson. I have been using ‘folks’ for a while now, instead of ‘guys’.
But, I will NOT call a conversation a ‘visit’!

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

The Blogs

Syndication icon