I am thinking about words, maybe used by older generations to approach a young man. And using some common word that also has some meaning along the lines of "young, handsome, lively, energetic or innocent boy". Which, basically, reminds the older generation of how they once were themselves. E.g. something like, "excuse me ...(young, handsome boy), could you carry that bag for me, please?"

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    "excuse me son, could you carry that bag for me please?"
    – njboot
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 17:55
  • 'Yo' is pretty common but it is perhaps more peer-to-peer, or hip older people
    – Third News
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 18:24
  • "Young man" and "young lady" automatically implies the person being addressed to is attractive: youth = beauty
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 6:04
  • @Mari-Lou A. I have no idea where you get that notion. Youth most certainly does not equal beauty. Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 14:31
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    I'm not arguing that youth is or isn't an attractive quality, but saying that ""Young man" and "young lady" automatically implies the person being addressed to is attractive" is a bit of a stretch. Families tend to call their younger members those terms and I really don't think they're expressing attraction. Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 12:49

8 Answers 8


Sir works. Coming from an old codger or an old lady, it throws them off their stride and gets their attention. Oddly enough, even millenials respond well to a little old-fashioned respect.


Here's my USA west coast point of view:

Use 'stud' if you really want 'handsome', but this could be seen as TOO complimentary.

Use 'kiddo', 'sport', 'junior', 'champ', and the like if you want to indicate they are young (and you are old).

Use 'buddy', 'man', or possibly 'dude' if you want a friendly, equalizing term.

  • Midwest here. I think buddy, man, and dude are all perfectly fine for male-to-male communication. They seem a bit strange for a female to address a young male as such. I think the female equivalent would be to exclude the term altogether (i.e. "Excuse me, could you help me...") or use sir. Given the context of older generations addressing younger, I think young man is the most appropriate here.
    – Gaʀʀʏ
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 21:06
  • Think all of those except your last line were already discussed. Commented May 27, 2014 at 22:21

A quirky word to call the person is Adonis. It may be a bit ambiguous so you could get away with saying it without sounding like you are hitting on the person.

▸ noun: (Greek mythology) a handsome youth loved by Aphrodite, the goddess of love

▸ noun: any handsome young man

Another term, stud (Hey there stud, can you go grab my bags) is heavy on the flirting side. I doubt a straight guy would say that to a straight guy. And as mentioned in comments it might as well have a phone number attached to it.

And then I will offer a third term, boss. Definition #7 pretty much sums it up. It could be said to a cool younger male without sounding like you want to have sex with him. This is heavy slang but understood by most.

Them: Yo!
You: Hey boss, what's up?

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    I might describe someone as an Adonis, but I highly doubt I'd ever use it as a vocative unless his name actually is Adonis. “Excuse me, Adonis” sounds quite… bizarre to me. “Excuse me, stud” sounds a bit odd too, but that's just because it's mixing registers, which is kind of the point here. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:11
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - I have heard "Excuse me, stud" many times in my life. Not usually from the people I want to hear it from but I have definitely heard it. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:21
  • I actually think stud is a good answer to the question, but it is not often used together with phrases of politesse when addressing people you don't know. I might use it with a stranger, but sparingly and carefully, lest he take offence or think I'm trying to jump him. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:26
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - well Adonis is just funny. It is like the quirky way to say stud. If you are within 10-15 years of a younger male that you call a stud you might as well slip them your phone number too. I am just following the constraints of the question. Is it a polite way to address someone? Sure. Is it super forward? Yes. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:35
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    Definitely use "stud" for 100% of those occasions on which, were your addressee female, you would use "slut." Commented May 27, 2014 at 22:37

If it's man addressing a young boy in a (perhaps overly) familiar way, we have slugger, bud, buckaroo, champ, cowboy, or tiger.

Older women can use terms like hon (honey), bud or dear with little risk of it sounding like a come-on.

  • People need to use buckaroo more often :) Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 12:42


Added examples (Edited) "Be a good squire and help me carry these bags?" (suitable before the act) "You Sir, are a gentleman and a squire!". (exceeding expectations)

Addressing a young man as squire is complimentary, and was often used by older generations, usually after the fact. This is to say, if you were to instruct a young person as squire it would likely be taken as a condescending insult: E.g. "Squire, please carry my bags." would likely afford you a comment of "Who you callin' squire gov?" whereas after the fact it's a compliment of thanks. So something like "Ah you're a squire, many thanks." would be an entirely appropriate and complimentary form of thanks towards a young man - the connotation being: acting in accordance, worthy of a knight. Worthy of respect and a noble profession for a young man to pursue.

Historically, a young nobleman acting as an attendant to a knight before becoming a knight himself.

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    If he is wearing armor I would go with this one. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:07
  • Calling someone squire would indicate either that you think they're your manservant or that you think they're some kind of local dignitary in a rural town somewhere. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:13
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    Coming from the UK (let's call it the old country), you can also address a barman for taking care of your drinks with "thank you squire" or "you're a squire, thanks." You are NOT referring to them as your "manservant", nor as a "rural dignitary" but as a "helpful lad". Perhaps a little viewing of Game of Thrones (squires don't wear armour) and some actual experience with older generations from the old country would assist with your ponderous remarks. ;-) Commented May 28, 2014 at 5:42

young man, whippersnapper, junior, lad, sonny

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    I don't think 'Whippersnapper' will agree to carry your bags. Commented May 27, 2014 at 17:57
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    young man, used to be OK but since Harry Enfield youtube.com/watch?v=C2hgAsi8Ae4 'young man' is not quite the same.
    – Frank
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 18:03

You could say something to the effect of "Hello handsome fella, would you mind helping me with my bag?" Or something friendly like that. This seems like a more polite way to address a young man while also being complimentary and respectful to him.


"Excuse me, kiddo, could you carry that bag for me, please?"

kiddo: (used as a form of address) a young person

Other options are champ, hero, looker, dreamboat, and adjectival gorgeous and handsome.

looker, dreamboat: a very attractive person

"Excuse me, gorgeous/handsome, could you carry that bag for me, please?"

That being said, the safest, simplest way to address a young person without sounding either false, condescending or whatever to them is by a plain, though polite: "Excuse me, could you carry that bag for me, please?".

  • Those would all be somewhat rude to use to address someone you don't know. I would certainly take offence at being addressed as either of them by anyone but a peer. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:09
  • @JanusBahsJacquet But the OP is looking for a term that has some meaning along the lines of "young, handsome, lively, and energetic person." Both "young gun" and "young buck" encompass these meanings.
    – Elian
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:20
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    Yes, but not in a very positive way. They are both very often used in a disapproving manner. And they're not words you'd use to address a stranger with if you don't want to come off as rude, or at least inappropriately crude in your humour. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:22
  • @JanusBahsJacquet So, to your perspective, any forms of address that imply liveliness, energy, and vigor due to young age sound either little flattering or inappropriately crude?
    – Elian
    Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:38
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    Not necessarily, no. But the ones you chose here all do. (Kiddo just because it sounds pretty condescending. One of those words friends can use, but strangers can't. Commented May 27, 2014 at 20:41

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