Green’s Dictionary of Slang

guy n.1

[fig. uses of the negative image of Guy Fawkes (1570–1606), leader of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605]

1. a fool.

[UK]‘Thomas Brown’ Fudge Family in Paris Letter VIII 90: What a Guy!
[UK]R. Barham Ingoldsby Legends I (1889) 26: You’d lift up your hands in amazement, and cry, – ‘Well! – I never did see such a regular Guy!’.
[UK]R. Nicholson Cockney Adventures 24 Feb. 131: ‘There’s a pair of guys,’ said a lad in a shiny hat and corduroy coat.
[UK]T. Hood ‘Masonic Secret’ Works (1862) VII 26: I’m quite as fit for a public procession as that regular Guy, old Griffis, with his red nose, and pot-belly, and spindle-shanks.
[US]G.H. Miles Mary’s Birthday I i: Dry up, you hold Guy.
[UK] ‘Under the Earth’ in Dick’s Standard Plays (1871) I i: What a guy you look!
[UK]Edinburgh Eve. News 5 Apr. 4/5: The Chinese [are] regarded in Paris as a legitimate laughing-stock, as [...] the word pékin — a synonym in Parisian slang for what the English call a ‘guy’.
[US]St Louis Globe-Democrat 19 Jan. n.p.: A member of the thrown-out ‘brigade’ [...] entreats the newcomer not to ‘give it away,’ which causes that party to inquire if they take him for a ‘gillie,’ a ‘guy’ or a ‘flat,’ and if they are not afraid they will ’get the collar’?
[UK]Trollope Duke’s Children (1954) 530: I should so hate to fig myself out and look like a guy.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 24 Jan. 12/1: How Greenhorns Are Fleeced [...] A new racket of the ‘guys’ has come to light in this city.
[UK]E.V. Page ‘It’s Enough to Make a Parson Swear’ [lyrics] My bags are ‘baggy’ and I feel such a guy, / It’s enough to make a parson swear!
[UK]Bird o’ Freedom 1 Jan. 2/2: [She] attracted the attention of the stage-manager by the fact that she knew how to dress and make up without making a guy of herself.
[US]H. Hapgood Types From City Streets 77: A ‘softy’ and a ‘guy’ are the worst things on earth.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 15 Jan. 9/5: When the women have succeeded in swindling some GULLIBLE GUY these wretched wasters [i.e. pimps] swoop down to share the spoil.
[UK]A. Brazil Fourth Form Friendship 179: ‘[S]he’ll be going about the school looking such a guy! She’ll wonder why everybody is smiling’.
[UK]Marvel 3 July 5: Ah, dat’s my misfortune, old guy!
[UK]M. Arlen May Fair (1947) 31: I didn’t tell you about this, sir, so that you should make a guy of me.
[Ire](con. 1920s) P. Crosbie Your Dinner’s Poured Out! 160: Oh they dressed me up in armour, / And they made me look a guy.

2. a dark lantern; thus stow the guy, cover or douse the lantern.

[UK]Lex. Balatronicum n.p.: Guy. A dark lanthorn: an allusion to Guy Faux, the principal actor in the gunpowder plot. Stow the guy: conceal the lanthorn.
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue.
[US]Matsell Vocabulum.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).

3. an ugly or badly dressed person.

[UK]‘Jon Bee’ Dict. of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, etc. 92: Guy, a — an ugly mug, or queerly-togged old one, like the effigies of Guy Fawkes on the fifth of November.
[UK]Morn. Post 25 Dec. 3/5: if the Londoners were to see him they would at once say, ‘what a guy’.
[UK]Hotten Dict. of Modern Sl. etc. (2nd edn) 152: GUY, a fright, a dowdy, an ill-dressed person.
[UK]Sl. Dict.
[Aus]Dead Bird (Sydney) 17 May 2/3: ‘You look positively charming to-night.’ (She thought, ‘What a foarful guy!’).

4. (US) a trick or hoax, a joke.

[UK]Observer (London) 29 Nov. 4/2: We did not notice any one quite so celebrious as Guy Earl of Warwick himself [...] There were ‘Guys’ enough to astonish the natives and to puzzle the vulgar.
[US]Congressional Record 1022/1: He was a democrat, as he says, for a ‘guy’ [DA].
[UK]A. Morrison Tales of Mean Streets (1983) 136: The orator did not take kindly to the proposal at first, strongly suspecting something in the nature of ‘guy’ or ‘kid’.
[US]Atlanta Constitution 3 Oct. 7/6 : The average fakir is selling all sorts of invaluable goods [...] ‘Now say,’ said one when notified that he must get a license by morning or stop business, ‘yer ain’t t’rowin’ de merry giggle at us, is yer? Now, on de level, I ain’t got no rubber in me neck; don’t try yer guys on me; try me nex’ door neighbor and yer gets a dead proper take-out ef yer runs him out er de biz.’.
[US]J.C. Lincoln Cap’n Warren’s Wards iii 37: I was only joking [...]. It’s a standing guy, you know [DA].

5. a crimp, one who tricks men into joining the navy.

[UK]Tait’s Mag. II. 451: These crimps are Jews; there are a few Christians who profess the same commercial faith, and they are called guys. These crimps and guys prey like sharks on the unfortunate sailors .

6. (US) a comical fellow, a smart aleck n.

[US]J. London ‘“Frisco Kid’s” Story’ Complete Short Stories (1993) 6: Do I know w’ere dey is? Yer jest bet I do [...] wot der yer tink I am? A cheap guy?
[UK]T.W.H. Crosland ‘The Volunteer’ in Five Notions 41: The neighbours said, ‘My eye! / Now ain’t he just a guy?’.
[Aus]K.S. Prichard Haxby’s Circus 349: Max and Lily hated Gina to make a guy of herself.

7. an act of running off, of leaving surreptitiously; usu. in phrs. below.

[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘Bella’s “Best Girl”’ Sporting Times 23 Apr. 1/3: He soon edged off, and Bella, wond’ring at his sudden ‘guy’.

In phrases

do a guy (v.)

1. to leave, esp. when stealthily or secretly.

[UK] press cutting in J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era (1909) 56/2: When your burick gets boozed, smashes the crockery, and then calls in her blooming old ma to protect her from your cruelty, that’s the time to do a guy.
[UK]Leicester Chron. 28 June 12/4: You’re the chap as did the guy from Woking [prison] that foggy afternoon.
[UK]‘Doss Chiderdoss’ ‘An Interim Injunction’ Sporting Times 11 Jan. 1: Then as words were ruling high, the other lady ‘did a guy’ / Having been extremely busy in the interim.
[UK]‘Pot’ & ‘Swears’ Scarlet City 89: Hook it — do a guy, if you don’t want to be known.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 8 Jan. 1/5: It is understood that the enterprising gentleman’s ‘clerk’ had ducked his nut the moment he cooked the copper coming, and done a guy at a shade outside 2½ yards worse than evens.
[Aus]E. Dyson Fact’ry ’Ands 54: The Perfesser, seein’ me goin’ t’ waste, done a guy.
[UK]D. Stewart Shadows of the Night in Illus. Police News 12 Oct. 12/3: ‘I’ll do a guy out of the infernal Mother Country and never return!’.
[Aus]Truth (Sydney) 15 Dec. 7/6: Cuddlin’ backward in a doorway, / Same as if she’d done a guy / From a copper.
[Aus]C.J. Dennis ‘The Crusaders’ in Chisholm (1951) 81: ‘Buzz off!’ ’e orders. So we done a guy.
[UK]J.B. Booth Sporting Times 267: Now, Joe [...] it’s high time we did a guy.
[US]Wentworth & Flexner DAS.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 147: Cheats when discovered usually had need to run quickly away, a practice that generated such arresting terms as guy-a-whack, do a guy, clear out and shirock.

2. to escape.

[UK]Answers 6 Apr. 297: They all dispersed at once – to put it in their own language, they did a guy [F&H].
[UK]Sporting Times 25 Jan. 1/3: [He] is ready to plank down anybody else’s money against [...] anybody doing a midnight guy quicker than he can.

3. to take a false name.

[UK]Fun 23 Mar. 125: [...] they’ll all be doing guys (giving false names!) [F&H].
[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 317/1: 1887; † 1910.

4. to absent oneself from work without asking permission.

[UK]T.W.H. Crosland ‘The Absent-Minded Mule’ in Absent-Minded Mule and Verses 7: He is here on active service, and he’s been and done a guy.
give someone the guy (v.)

1. to run away from, to ‘give the slip’.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (1984) 516/2: —1899.

2. (US, also give someone the G) to make a fool of someone, to tease.

[US]Lantern (N.O.) 22 Jan. 3: When I pass out that way, dey are all givin’ me de guy.
[UK]P. Wright Cockney Dialect and Sl. 92: Give ’em de ol’ G ‘tell them a lie’.