Replacing guys
November 12, 2013 3:48 AM   Subscribe

Whats a good group noun to replace guys?

I have become aware that I use guys quite a lot to refer to a group of people. I don't think its the worst word in the world, but it is clearly gendered. I'd like to come up with a replacement I can use which doesn't assume the gender of the group to which I am refering.
posted by Cannon Fodder to Society & Culture (56 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Instead of:

Hey, guys, it's time to go could try:

Hey, folks, it's time to go
Hey, everyone, it's time to go
Hey, y'all, it's time to go
Hey, people, it's time to go

posted by mdonley at 3:53 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

People, folks, friends, all.

And thanks for being sensitive enough to care about this!
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:53 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use "folks" and "all y'all" but this can come off as odd or affected. Luckily I'd come off as odd and affected regardless of my group pronouns, so it's not a problem for me.
posted by Mizu at 3:54 AM on November 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

Was about to suggest "folks" and "y'all".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:54 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fellas? .. oh gender..,. yeah "folks"
posted by sammyo at 3:56 AM on November 12, 2013

if you can carry it off, something like, "hey, all you gorgeous people" or something along those lines. If they're there as a group because of a shared interest or employer, use that - "Team Xerox, listen up!"
posted by lemniskate at 4:01 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

I like "people" or "you people". I think it's about as neutral and unaffected as you're going to get.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 4:05 AM on November 12, 2013

Everyone. Although sometimes I like to use the word 'team' (you know, when I'm sort of pretending I'm part of a group of crime-busting teenagers or something)
posted by pipeski at 4:10 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

I like "humans", "compatriots", or "meatbags".
posted by Radiophonic Oddity at 4:15 AM on November 12, 2013 [4 favorites]

In you're head, you're a superhero, right? So address groups genially as "CITIZENS!" :D
posted by lemniskate at 4:16 AM on November 12, 2013 [8 favorites]

I like "people" or "you people". I think it's about as neutral and unaffected as you're going to get.

Careful with that one.
posted by empath at 4:16 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

posted by DarlingBri at 4:20 AM on November 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


Take it from a former Northerner who moved to New Orleans in the 9th grade and who also used guys. Only takes being laughed at a couple times on the 1st day of my new school to learn to use Ya'll.
posted by govtdrone at 4:20 AM on November 12, 2013

I also say comrades.
posted by makonan at 4:24 AM on November 12, 2013

I would go with "folks" or "y'all" myself.

"Comrades" or "compadres" if I want that certain je ne sais quoi.

"People" also works.

"People, it's time to pack up our crapola and move on."

I've been known to address my helpdesk support requests to: The Party People of Support.
posted by jquinby at 4:29 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Y'all is perfect for this.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:32 AM on November 12, 2013

Youse. Maybe.
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:48 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

To not sound like an affected southerner, "you all" (distinct words) works too...
posted by sandmanwv at 4:56 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is not clear from the question as to whether you mean a form of address or an indirect reference.

In a third person reference such as "Yeah, I went with those ____ to the movies." then "y'all" won't fit.

I would recommend against "people" since that has some subtext to it. The word "folks" works well in this regard and probably needs to be rescued again for this purpose.
posted by vacapinta at 4:59 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The young man who handled our account at the funeral home (of all places) had a habit of saying "you guys" to my 60-something recently widowed mother and myself (female, 30s).

I winced every time.
posted by mochapickle at 5:00 AM on November 12, 2013

And as a form of address, it's good to use simply You or You All.
posted by mochapickle at 5:01 AM on November 12, 2013

In Philadelphia they say "Yous". In Pittsburgh they say "Yuns." I say "you all".
posted by three blind mice at 5:02 AM on November 12, 2013

Best answer: I'm all for scrapping "guys," but good lord, don't pick up an affectation of using "y'all" if that's not part of your linguistic upbringing. You might as well start saying "yinz," the Western PA "y'all." Which is to say, don't, particularly given that you appear to be British.

Everyone or folks, or even people, works fine.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:03 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Good news, everyone!"
posted by notsnot at 5:07 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

"You lot", delivered sufficiently jovially, is a perfectly acceptable British alternative of course.
posted by oliverburkeman at 5:08 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've heard 'peeps' used in informal settings.
posted by tavegyl at 5:12 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fellow humanoids.
posted by Grangousier at 5:16 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Folks, people, everyone.

I am a women who addresses groups of people (regardless of gender, and including groups of all women) as guys, dudes, and duderinos. And I'm going to keep doing it.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:20 AM on November 12, 2013 [12 favorites]

I too say Dudes when I mean a collective. Or All Y'all.

Maybe it's my age, but I don't really think it's that big a deal.

FWIW my mom used to refer to we kids collectively as Monsters.

"Hey monsters! Time to wake up!"
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:25 AM on November 12, 2013 [3 favorites]

As a transplanted Southerner, I can attest that y'all sounds really weird when New Englanders say it.

As a woman, I've never really had a problem with "you guys." Like "dudes", it's a word that's basically lost its gender for me.

As a people, I don't think "people" has any weird or negative subtext unless you're using it for a single-race or ethnic group and you're of a different race or ethnicity. And anyway, "Hey, people, let's go" is a very different statement from "You people are ________."

As a geek, my personal favorite is: "Greetings, Programs!"
posted by kythuen at 5:29 AM on November 12, 2013

"You all" or "y'all" would sound utterly absurd to anyone in the UK, by the way. "Folks" isn't much better. They're both distinctly American terms.
posted by pipeski at 5:39 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

.. well, except when used in the form "Could you all come with me?". That's normal English just about anywhere. But you wouldn't say anything like "Can I get you all anything to drink?". That would sound American.
posted by pipeski at 5:41 AM on November 12, 2013

"Ladies and Gents/Gentlemen"
Usage: Ok, ladies and gents! Let's get this project done!

Otherwise, look at what people in your region gravitate towards using. If you have moved to the region from elsewhere, it's reasonable that you would pick up some of the local speech patterns. For example, if everyone in your town says "y'all" it would not sound affected if you started to use "y'all", provided that you don't fake an accent just for that word.
posted by donut_princess at 5:47 AM on November 12, 2013

I grant you permission to borrow the Pittsburghese "yinz", if it is closer to your location/heritage than a Southern "y'all."

I've been trying to stamp "guys" out of my language too, and I sometimes go with "folks", but I find that one's really context-dependent. Sometimes in writing it just doesn't seem like the right tone. "People" or "everyone" often works in those situations. If I can be more specific I go that route (e.g., in work communication I can go with "those faculty" rather than "those guys").

There doesn't necessarily seem to be a perfect one-size-fits-all approach, though. You may want to just have three or four options in your back pocket and find the one that fits that context/group best.
posted by Stacey at 5:49 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

A former coworker was partial to 'gentlepeople'. You wouldn't believe how calm people behave once they get over the novelty.
posted by jwells at 5:56 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It may be worth noting that the etymology of "guy" doesn't really have to do with gender, specifically. It was originally a disparaging term for someone slovenly or poorly dressed, implying that they resembled an effigy of Guy Fawkes which used to be made and burned on Guy Fawkes Night. Guy Fawkes was the terrorist who tried to blow up the British Parliament: "remember remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot."

It morphed into a general address, of course, but at the root the word is about what someone did, not what gender they identified as. Naturally, this probably doesn't matter since most people aren't familiar with the etymology, and it's certainly better to be sensitive than exactly correct!
posted by gilrain at 5:58 AM on November 12, 2013 [9 favorites]

Is it really? That's fantastic. "Hey, you crazed midnight bombers what bomb at midnight, let's get going already!"

In Florida, luckily, "y'all" is an accepted term, and by now it is probably so ingrained that I'd find myself saying it no matter where I went. Folks and people work well too, as long as it's not a "you people" situation, but rather "let's go, people!"

Around good friends and/or animals, I will say things like "C'mon critters" or "Line up, ducklings!" but I do not recommend that in any but the least formal of settings.
posted by cmyk at 6:04 AM on November 12, 2013

I sorely needed to ask this question since my go to replacement for "guys" was $NUMBER_OF_PEOPLE. So, usually it's "you two" or "you three"... get's really hard upwards of that.

(native Minnesotans don't really feel comfortable saying "y'all")
posted by baniak at 6:10 AM on November 12, 2013

Best answer: I would argue that going with something like "ladies and gents" is potentially far more offensive than guy, which is neither historically gendered nor perceived by everyone to be gendered. Given that lady is a mildly contentious thing in and of itself, and not everyone identifies as part of a binary gender, it seems that if you're going to go so far as to strike guy from your lexicon, you should be careful to replace it with something truly neutral.

I think that y'all and yunz and yinz are all out--regionalisms are weird applied in other places, and all three can be class markers (in a negative way) depending on where you are. Folks isn't much better.

People is questionable when you're referring to a group of people who are Other than you, though probably acceptable if you're explicitly including yourself. ("Hey, people, let's..." vs "Hey, people, you...") Everyone will often work. I will sometimes refer to a group of people with whom I'm friends as "friends", as in, "OK, friends, let's get going." (But I'm sort of naturally awkward, so.)

That said, I think that this is one of those things that there's not really a good single replacement word, which is part of why guys continues to enjoy such popularity. You may have to make the mental adjustment to not having a default word for "mixed-gender group of associated people" and just come up with things as you go. "Went to the movies with my friends." "Come on, asshats." "Good morning, everyone." "OK, you two, let's get moving." Definitely less automatic than guys, but less likely to cause offense.
posted by MeghanC at 6:15 AM on November 12, 2013

I like "people" or "you people". I think it's about as neutral and unaffected as you're going to get.

Don't do that. And echoing the posters above that are against "y'all" and other regional dialect that you weren't brought up with or are currently surrounded by, it's either silly or pretentious.

"Hey everyone" is fine.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 6:29 AM on November 12, 2013

I'm not southern but I like "y'all" except of course I say "you all" without any twang.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2013

I am a woman working in tech - all guys all the time - and I enjoy addressing everyone as "ladies". The ladies seem to like it too.
posted by rada at 7:10 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

All, Team, Gentlepeople. I have used all three. I have also just said, "Greetings" and not used the descriptor for a group at all, since if they are all receiving the email, in my mind, it's meant for "all".
posted by brownrd at 7:14 AM on November 12, 2013

I think if you live in a major US city you can get away with y'all, as long as you don't fake an accent. Most people I know who live in cities have multiple influences on their dialect. That said, I also often use kids, friends, folks, my dears, or my darlings. Those last two probably reflect my crazy grandmother's influence on my dialect, but nobody ever seems to mind.
posted by dizziest at 7:35 AM on November 12, 2013

In my family it was always "ladles and jellyspoons".
posted by flabdablet at 8:15 AM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is probably going to be pretty specific to your region and social group.

I could never get away with "y'all" in my small Upstate New York city without sounding like a poseur. "People" would make me sound like an uptight middle-school teacher of a certain age. I have never thought of "guys" as gendered until today, although of course I'm aware of its gendered roots.

"Folks" or "Everybody" are probably the most neutral, all-purpose terms that would fit my particular milieu.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:34 AM on November 12, 2013

I say "folks." But I'm from Pittsburgh, and I'm tickled that people have suggested "yunz" and "yinz." I hate those!
posted by anotheraccount at 8:38 AM on November 12, 2013

I have found "Hey team!" to be a pleasing phrase to be on the receiving end of, and I think it's generally cute/friendly and pretty adaptable to address a group of friends, family, or colleagues.
posted by likeatoaster at 9:03 AM on November 12, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen.


"Folks" is downright awful. AWFUL. Please contribute to ending the common use of this horrible word by never saying it.
posted by ArgyleGargoyle at 9:12 AM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

I use different ones for different contexts, but "Hey kids" to a small group of friends is cute and fun.

Also, I can't believe I'm the first one to say "all of you" instead of y'all or you all. It doesn't always work without sounding stilted, but "Hey, could I get all of you to line up on the right?" works just fine. You can even add a twang and get "all'a you" if that's your thing.
posted by gregoryg at 9:17 AM on November 12, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen.

This is still gendered, and though more inclusive of female-identified people, obviously excludes folks outside the gender binary.

I, and a lot of other people at my liberal New England university, say y'all or you all.
posted by kylej at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2013

I use folks and y'all a lot.

That said, I am from the south. Those words might not sit as comfortably in your mouth as they do mine.
posted by Sara C. at 1:04 PM on November 12, 2013

Oh, and be wary of "All Yall". It does not mean "all of you".

Depending on context, it is either the possessive form, meaning "each of your", or it can refer to a group of groups.

So you'd say "Hey, folks! All y'all's pizzas are ready over by the food trucks!" or you might also say, "Team A, Team B, and Team C, can all y'all please be quiet for a moment so that Team D can do their skit?"

You would not use "all y'all" to refer to a general plural group of people.

If you can't wrap your head around the finer points of this, probably better to stick to "folks", "team", "everyone", etc.
posted by Sara C. at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Y'all" works for any situation where you need to address a group, but only if you're from the South or if you're in the South and have been living there long enough that you can pull it off without it sounding strained (if you're not sure you can pull it off, get a Southern friend to critique you).

Otherwise, "Folks" or "Everyone" works, with "Folks" being a bit more general-purpose and "Everyone" pinch-hitting in mostly with larger groups and in more formal settings.

Also, in very informal settings where you know everybody is relaxed about it, it is often perfectly acceptable to refer to a mixed-gender group as "Guys". This is very situational though, and if you're not 100% sure that it will be OK with everyone it's better to err on the side of "Folks" or "Everyone".
posted by Scientist at 2:19 PM on November 12, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for this. I think the "its probably situational" answer is probably spot on really. I do think this'd be easier if I was American, and could use folks/y'all, both of which sound a bit odd coming out of my mouth. I will probably go with "everyone" most of the time
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:34 PM on November 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Late addition: I am a British person with English accent (as I believe you are)

I have found that I tend to refer to people as "Humans". I didn't really realise I was doing it, I just didn't want to say guys, or dudes and that's what I settled on. Someone at one point said that it sounded like I was implying I was not human, I still do it though.

I have also, quite often replaced the appalling, atrociousness of 'ugh Men!/'ugh women!' which some off my friends have been known to do, (usually followed by me looking annoyed at them) with 'ugh humans' which I rather like.

(Oh also, prefacing humans with their particular type, as in "Hello office humans" at work, or "hello boat humans" at home, which yeah, probably that is too weird)

Also, and this is more to the point I have taken to saying "y'all" and "all y'all" (almost certainly due to metafilter influence) which although it does sound a little odd coming from someone with my accent, is not as bad as you would think. Try it.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:00 AM on August 21, 2014

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