etymology of guay: update

Three people tell me that 10-15 years ago when they were kids they used to use guay amongst themselves in the way Ms/Mr Fages suggests in my original post, eg Esto es guay de(l) Paraguay. One thought the phrase came from a song or radio ad but, strangely, none of them was aware of the word’s former meaning. There’s an interesting post on Yahoo that throws some light on Latin American usage:

  • Ruben D Romani says that in his(?) part of Argentina, guay is used as a prefix in many toponomics of indigenous, local and Inca origin. He also notes that guay, presumably in the old (Judeo-)Spanish configuration, is sometimes used to warn and may be accompanied by a flourishing of fists.
  • Cecilia Casamajor says that the suffix guay in Paraguay, Uruguay and Gualeguay is Guarani, but she has evidence of homonymic use as well.

For Latin Americans, guay obviously means something authentic (as well as retaining the meaning imported from Spain). But how do the indigenous population use it? I’ve found a couple of suggestions:

A back-to-front word from a back-to-front people. And now I’m going to do some work.

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  1. When I heard my son use the word “guay” meaning “good” (about 25 years back), I remember to have had the hunch that it came from “wild”, that would sound very similar to spanish ears. At that time other hippie expressions were entering the slang of spanish youths: “chutar”, until then exclusively a soccer term, at that moment acquired the meaning of “shooting dope”; “friqui” came obviously from “freak”; “flipar” from “flip out” etc.
    Maria Moliner lists in her Dictionary both the old and the recent senses of “guay”, but she gives no etymology.

  2. My dear Eugenio, that’s such a wonderfully hippy, sorry, jipi explanation that it never would have occurred to me.
    (My favourite Hispanic Anglicisms come from the USA–here‘s a list with strange things like moso for muscle, negachuri for niggershooter, and yoga for jug.)

  3. You’ve missed the ‘chérigan’…
    a type of tapa served in Almería and an invention of the time cowboy movies were shot there – sheriff gun.

  4. Also, in the ’60’s there was a street tradesman in Mexico known as a ‘guachucarero’. A gringo, on parking his car, would be approached by some sort of urchin/extortionist offering the service,’Watch your car, mister?’
    Or the domestic duty, ‘vacunar la carpeta’.

  5. For that I may have to declare war on you on behalf of the currently army-less Castilian-la Manchan nation: everyone in la Manchuela knows that those feelthy Emericens have nothing to do with “guacho/a”, which simply means “lad/dess”, while in Buenos Aires, characteristically, it means “bastard”.

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