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Is anyone familiar with, or know the origin of, the use of "guy" as an interjection at the beginning of a sentence, as a substitute for "gosh!" or "golly!" (or "God"?) ?

For example:

I had never encountered this usage before, so I consulted a half-dozen standard dictionaries of the English language; two slang dictionaries (including the most recent edition of Partridge); two books on word origins; and two books specifically on interjections.

  • These examples are from between 1965–1971; to me, this implies some sort of period slang, which may only have had a brief vogue.

  • The fact that major production companies were involved in making the material suggests that the writers employed language that they felt was common enough that it would be recognized by most of their intended audience — which in all cases consisted of native English-speaking Americans.

  • That neither I, nor several other Americans I've asked can remember ever encountering this particular usage before suggests that the popularity of this usage was short-lived, and possibly also regional.

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    Gee, Homer....not guy.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 22:21
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    Are you sure you're not just mishearing the word golly said with a very weak or elided /l/? Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 23:06
  • What @JanusBahsJacquet said.
    – Drew
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 23:07
  • There's also "gol", a shortened form of "golly".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 20, 2016 at 23:19
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    I'm wondering if the OP knows that in the English "guy" the vowel sounds like "eye", while the French name "Guy" has a long "eeee" vowel. That gives some credence to @Lambie 's "gee" confusion theory. Commented Sep 21, 2016 at 2:03

8 Answers 8

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In an episode of the TV show Ghost and Mrs Muir, the pre-teen daughter Candace has a line where she says,

Guy Grandpa, you sound like a grumpy bear.
[Guy being pronounced as rhyming with buy]

I personally remember as a child in the 60s, a very strict and religious family in our neighborhood that all said "guy" instead of "gosh" or "gee" so as not to be confused with saying God or Jesus in a way that would "take the Lord's name in vain". I stumbled across this thread in search of the origins of the use of this term after watching old reruns of the afore mentioned series on YouTube.

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Green’s Dictionary of Slang dates the use of guy as a a euphemism for God from 1949. (US)

1949 [US] in DARE File (1986) : Guy! this bike stops fast.

1981 [US] Graziano & Corsel Somebody Down Here Likes Me, Too 211: All those things happen way back then was the road the Guy up there made me travel to get where I reached today.

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    Thanks to the three recent posters, for finally shedding some light on this vexing question. Much appreciated.
    – Dr H
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 19:56
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The only instance of this usage that I had ever known of until I watched the clips posted by the OP was a series of young adult books by Kin Platt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kin_Platt), Chloris and the Creeps (1973), Chloris and the Freaks (1975), and Chloris and the Weirdos (1978). These stories were set in southern California, and the use of "guy" as an interjection by one of the characters is pointed out in at least one of the books as a fad or affectation.

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Yes! When I was in elementary school in Long Beach, California in the mid to late 1960's, we used the interjection "guy". I did hear it watching a rerun of The Munsters.

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  • Thanks, Clayton. While helpful, this is anecdotal - it would be more helpful if you can cite some documented reference, like the other answers. Welcome, and please take the tour.
    – Davo
    Commented May 5, 2021 at 13:59
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We AbSOLUTELY used ¤guy" IN 1960S Los Angeles among elementary through high school aged kids. Typical usage would be perhaps a slight tsk before saying "Guy, DAD, DO I HAVE TO DO CHORES BEFURE I GO OUT?" The Brady Bunch episodes captured common usage perfectly. Madeleine

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  • This would be more helpful with an attributed source or citation. Please do take a moment to tour the site and see the help center.
    – livresque
    Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 20:34
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In an episode of My Three Sons from February 1964, [“Stage Door Bub”] the kids are using the word when talking to Bub (William Frawley). He openly expresses his disgust with the slang, saying “Is that supposed to be English?!”.

I had never heard this before today (I’m 60), and I’m guessing that it was localized to California.

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I frequently used this word myself as as child of 4-5 years old until I was about age 10. I never noticed the word dropped out of my usage until today! As children, all of my friends would say "Guy!That wasn't very nice of you!" or "Guy! Why did you do that!" or simply, "Guyyyyyyy!" and then a "Chhh" sound. It was usually only used in negative form, not for positive exclamations. Update: I grew up using it in the 1970s (70-80) and also lived in Long Beach, California at the time, Los Alamitos specifically.

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  • and yes, I am in Southern California. Interesting to hear it seems to be my section of the world only. I would be willing to bet it is said on the Brady Bunch, as my 2 older brothers and I were avid fans. Again, only ever used in negative connotations
    – classicB
    Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 16:32
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Kids and teenagers definitely used "Guy" to avoid saying "God," We lived in the San Fernando Valley, California. This was a common usage in the 1960s to 1970. It might have had some life after that; I don't recall.

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