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Is there a word that is the feminine equivalent of guy? I thought of gal, but I think it is used for a girl, or a young woman. I am looking for a word that can be used to generally mean woman, and similar to guy.

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4 Answers 4

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According to the writers of this musical, it’s gal. In more recent times, however, guy seems to have become unisex.

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  • Can we use of "guys" for a mixed gender population? Or do you prefer to say "ladies & Gentlemen"? But in a friendly gathering I think "ladies & Gentlemen" seems a little strange! Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 10:39
  • That is answered on this question.
    – apaderno
    Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 11:10
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    @user37324. Ladies and gentlemen is normally quite formal. As I said in my answer, guys does seem to be increasingly used to address men and women, but its use depends on the relationship between the speaker and those addressed. Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 11:13
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    I think gal is regarded as being a bit dismissive and I'd be reluctant to use it as a generic replacement for "guys." Commented Feb 14, 2013 at 21:49
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    I often hear (and use!) guys as a general term for a mixed sex group (and sometimes even for an all female one), but the singular guy still seems inappropriate for referring to a woman. In that case, usually gal or girl is the go-to rather than guy. Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 14:49
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In some cases "gal" can be used, and in some cases "girl" can be used. (for example "Girls night out" is more or less equivalent to "guys night out".) But although "girl" is sometimes used to refer to women of any age, it at least suggests a child or a young woman, and many women now consider it a mild put-down when used of an adult women, implying that women are never really mature. Once it was common to refer to a female workforce as "the office girls", but that would be taken as quite negative by many now.

There really isn't a female equivalent for "guy" in many usages. Some people use "guys" to mean "people", but I think that sounds odd, and depending on the context, perhaps wrong. There are many slang terms for "woman" but most of them have similar problems to "girl" or worse ones. It very much depends on the specific audience. "Lady" or "ladies" almost always works, but is a bit more formal than "Guy" or "Guys".

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Guys seems to have a kind of casual almost affectionate ring that evokes a specifically male personna. The unisex usage seems a bit contrived, tag-along. Guy probably arose among men from sustained, all-male work, military, or school experience. Not having had many of those kinds of experiences women have evolved no generally informal terms for themselves. Maybe that will change.

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As guy probably came from the first name Guy, I would say that there isn't one to be used in the same way. My guess is that sheila (as used in Australia) could be the equivalent, although I don't think it would go down quite as well.

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