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Katy Perry has a pop dance song titled California Gurls.

What does Gurls mean in that context?

For me, after readying the lyrics, it's about California Girls; is this spelling something Katy did just for fun?

closed as off-topic by user140086, Mari-Lou A, Nathaniel, anongoodnurse, Mitch Dec 18 '15 at 19:48

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  • You can type "define gurl" in Google and get this definition or this. I would advise you to take the tour and visit our help center to see how it works here. – user140086 Dec 17 '15 at 17:09
  • Michael, it's just fun spelling, like Ke$ha, or emoticons. – Mitch Dec 17 '15 at 17:31
  • @Mitch wow what does Ke$ha mean? – michael Salam Dec 18 '15 at 12:33
  • @BrianDonovan well I didn't say anything wrong, you DO know Katy Perry even if you hate her (like me) – michael Salam Dec 18 '15 at 12:34
  • @michaelSalam en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kesha – Mitch Dec 18 '15 at 19:47
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Wiktionary has the following entry for gurl:

gurl ‎(plural gurls) 1. (LGBT slang) Term of address between gay men. 2. (informal) A girl.

The same source gives the word's etymology as "Variant spelling of girl."

So, not much information there. The first pop song (that I'm aware of) to use the spelling was "September Gurls" by Alex Chilton, a song that appears on the second Big Star LP, Radio City (1974). According to the Wikipedia article on "September Gurls,"

The title of Katy Perry's 2010 number one hit "California Gurls" was spelled as a tribute to Chilton and Big Star. Perry's manager is a fan of the band, and asked her to spell "girls" with a "u".

It's unclear why Chilton chose the spelling gurls, but gurl spelled with a u go back to at least 1840. From "From a Servant of a Family Travelling to Astoria," in The Dublin Magazine (March 1840):

Says he, 'I like you for that answer, my dear ; for it shows you are a gud gurl, such an uncommon pretty gurl as you (he said uncommon, I assure you—I am certain I can't be mistaken)—such an uncommon pretty gurl—(it was verry sivil of him to say so, when after all, I really do not think I am so verry, verry pretty)—such an uncommon pretty gurl as you are must take care of yourself ;' ...

Clearly people have been using the variant spelling gurl for a long time, whatever their particular reason for avoiding the standard spelling girl may be.

  • Maybe also because there already was a well-known song called California Girls (Beach Boys)? – Steven Littman Dec 17 '15 at 18:14
  • Wow, it's accompanied by a lot of other eye-dialect in that passage. – sumelic Dec 17 '15 at 20:24
  • The passage appears to be a parody of a semi-literate person's mode of expression. – Kate Bunting Nov 28 '16 at 10:32

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