“Guys” is a super common term that is used to address any gender. At first glance, “guys” seems inviting and friendly— but, it, like many male default terms, it probably shouldn’t be normalized as an all-encompassing phrase.
The meaning of “guys” has changed over time. According to the Washington Post, etymologists believe it began in the 17th century with a man named Guy Fawkes, a participant in the failed 1605 Gunpowder Plot. For the next few centuries, those who likened him in fashion, appearance, or intellect were referred to as “guys.” Eventually, according to the Boston Globe, the term broadened to describe creepy people, then became a generic term for men, and then became the seemingly “gender neutral” phrase it is today.
The term may be colloquial, but with our elevated knowledge and inclusive perspective, it may come off as inconsiderate to subconsciously address only one specific gender. It could also be difficult for women or gender nonconforming people to feel empowered when, upon receiving a greeting, they’re immediately misgendered or ignored.
The things we do and say matter, and even subconscious, seemingly innocuous phrasing can end up being harmful. Though it may sound overly PC, using language that isn’t exclusionary to certain gender identities and can make a large impact on their empowerment.
This video, "'Hey, Guys': It Might Be Time to Stop Using This Gendered Phrase", first appeared on