Me Like Words
Thursday, August 10, 2006
An informal term for a youth or man; "a nice guy"

My favorite way to address someone whose name I do not know has an interesting and violent history. But long before we were using guy as a way to hide our forgetfulness, we were using it for the exact opposite reason, as a proper name. And the most famous Guy in history - besides Guy Ritchie, of course - gave us our beloved term for a dude, a bro, a man or pal.

Guy Fawkes was not a happy man. A converted Catholic, he was pretty upset when King James I decided that all Catholics were persona non grata in 1605 and passed some reforms saying as much. Guy was so upset he devised a plan to blow up Parliament on it's opening day while James would have been inside. Luckily, someone tipped off the authorities and Guy was nabbed at the scene of the crime, having already loaded quite a bit of gunpowder into the Parliament basement. After some friendly torture Guy gave up his co-conspirators and the whole group had the pleasure of being hanged. But it doesn't end there.

Guy's death was declared a national holiday and is celebrated every year in England. Aside from getting very, very drunk (trust me, I've seen it), the Brits also like to burn Guy in effigy. These flaming figures were dubbed Guys and the whole kingdom had a real blast lighting them up every year. Since the Guys were always dressed in crappy clothing, obviously, the term guy started to be used more informally as an insulting term for a poor person. It is thought that Mark Twain was the first to introduce guy to the vernacular with it's current neutral meaning; ya know, just a dude, a guy. Oh, and V in V for Vendetta is supposed to be Guy Fawkes, I think.

So there you have it, 400 plus years of linguistic evolution through some of the most important events and people in history all to arrive at our glorious word, guy.

Narc-ed out!
v is not supposed to be guy fawkes, he is just keeping the spirit of revolution alive in a time which suffered from a repressive government who used fear and ignorance to control the lives of its citizens
God, you're a nerd.
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I (me) like words. And even more than liking words I like to know where they come from and how they ended up in my mouth. It's called 'Etymology,' and I hope you like words as much as me do. If you have a word or phrase you've been pondering send it to me at with 'Me Like Words' as the subject.

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