Hey guys. Millions of YouTube videos start with this friendly greeting but have you stopped to think what guys means and where it comes from. Some people suggest it is a derivation of the Yiddish word goy meaning a gentile one who is not of the Jewish faith.
But we have to look to the early 17th century for the real answer.
When King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church to form the Church of England after he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1533 because of his divorce of Catherine of Aragon. This lead to the English Reformation where the Catholic Church, it’s priests and worshipers were persecuted and driven out of the country. Elizabeth I and then James I continued the persecution of Catholics. The Catholic Church was driven underground and people worshipped in secret. Amongst those worshippers were a group who planned an attack on the Protestant power and kill James I by blowing up parliament. The gunpowder plot. Following a tip-off on the conspirators, Guy Fawkes was found under parliament with 20 barrels of gunpowder on the night of the 5th of November 1605.
Following Guy Fawkes execution for treachery James I’s parliament introduced the Observance of 5th November Act, which later became known as the Gunpowder Treason Day. Over the century the day was marked by sermons but also bonfires that started to become large celebrations, often burning effigies of Guy Fawkes. Towards the end of the 19th-century children began begging with effigies of Guy Fawkes, something that was still common in the late 20th century and the day started to take the name of Guy Fawkes. These ragged effigies gave rise to the slang name of a badly dressed fellow, a guy. When the word guy crossed the Atlantic it started to lose its earlier associations and just came to mean a man.
And now we use the term daily as a greeting “Hey guys” to both sexes without a thought to its origin.