“Gyno”

The ever-observant Nancy Friedman notes the viral popularity of a commercial in which a girl dispenses advice about menstruation to the other kids at her summer camp and is  dubbed the “Camp Gyno.” She also sends along the (American) Cosmopolitan cover headline below, and wonders, “is gyno [for “gynecologist”] the latest Britishism to cross the pond?”

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 10.39.59 AM

It would appear so, at least a little bit. The word doesn’t appear in the Oxford English Dictionary, and searching for it in Google and other databases is a bit chancey, since it is used in a variety of ways, in addition to the gynecologist abbreviation. That usage does appear to be of longer standing in the U.K. than the U.S., not surprising given the Brits’ fondness for such abbreviations as veg and cuppa.

But it has been gaining traction here for some time, or at least since 2007, the date of these citations:

From “Vibe Vixen” magazine: “At my gyno’s recommendation, I scheduled laser surgery to have the warts removed.”

From Don’t Sleep with a Bubba: Unless Your Eggs Are in Wheelchairs, by Susan Reinhardt: “Never wear C- or D-grade lingerie to the gyno because, chances are, when you wad up your clothes and place them on the chair, they’ll fall to the ground and the nurse will tell everyone in the office how hideous they were.”

Hard to argue with that.

18 responses to ““Gyno”

  1. Gyno? No …….. we would tend to use gynae …..

  2. … or more likely “gynie” (same pronunciation, different spelling) – admittedly I’m a chap, but I don’t believe I’ve ever heard/seen “gyno”.

  3. Likewise. I have the requisite ladyparts to necessitate the occasional visit to the gynae but have never heard or seen “gyno” until now.

  4. The last quote doesn’t sound like British English to me at all – I don’t think a Brit would “wad up” their clothes (bundle them up, perhaps, or scrunch them, but not wad) and doctors here don’t have “offices”, they have clinics or surgeries. So no, I don’t think “gyno” is a Britishism either.

    • Well, the two quotes are definitely from American sources and meant to show that the term is used over here. But in any case, the comments so far suggest that I may have been misinformed about “the gyno” or “my gyno” being a Britishism. Anyone have any information to the contrary?

  5. Not an expression I’ve ever heard (in London). Abbreviations ending “-o” sound more Australian to me e.g. arvo

  6. I’ve heard “gyno” since I was personally old enough to go to one (here in the NE US), which would pre-date your 2007 examples by a couple years. It’s never sounded unusual to me.

  7. A quick google easily finds 20-year-old American citations and comparison of British and American corpora shows a strong US bias. What’s the evidence that it has “longer standing in the U.K. than the U.S.”?

  8. I* don’t know if “gyno” is current in the UK, but I’ve seen the -o casual suffix used for many purposes from “good-o,” ” to “right-o” to “journo.”

  9. Well, I went to the ultimate source–linguist Lynne Murphy, proprietor of the great blog separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com, a native of the U.S. and a longtime professor of linguistics at Brighton University. She confirms that “gyno,” as in “my gyno” or “the gyno,” is indeed a Britishism (though clearly not one familiar to everyone in Britian). And that is good enough for me.

    • Or it could be an Americanism, not familiar to Lynne Murphy. While I love her blog and respect her scholarship, she’s not a one-person corpus.

  10. I’ve never heard it either – only ever “gynae”, with the speciality known as OB-GYN in the US referred to as Obs and Gynae.

  11. I first heard “gyno” from female British friends and roommates–all the American girls and women I knew said “ob-gyn” (oh-bee-gee-wye-en). I’d never seen it in print until recently. Cosmo’s new editor-in-chief, Joanna Coles, is British; I’ve noticed that several NOOBs can be traced directly to British journalists working in the U.S. (See, for example, my column on “livery.” http://www.visualthesaurus.com/cm/candlepwr/how-livery-changed-its-spots/)

    Naama Bloom, who founded Hello Flo and created the “Camp Gyno” commercial, is the daughter of Israeli immigrants, which may explain her use of the word: the British influence on English-language slang would still have been strong in her parents’ generation.

    “Gyno” also shows up in some Australian slang dictionaries.

    • Unless I’ve miscounted, every comment saying “gyno” is a Briticism comes from an American, and every comment from a Briton says “gyno” isn’t a Briticism. That would suggest either your memory is faultu, Nancy (heaven forfend) or since you had British roomies, use of “gyno” among Britons has declined to invisibility. But nobody has, so far, presented any actual hard evidence that Britons say “gyno”, only “I remember” anecdotage from Americans.

      • Perhaps “gyno” is the new “bumbershoot”?🙂

      • Well, my original note to Ben Yagoda was phrased as a question: “Is ‘gyno’ the latest Britishism to cross the pond?” It certainly struck me as non-US in origin, and while I couldn’t vouch for its recency (as opposed to the recency illusion), I did find it interesting to see two examples in the media within a short period of time.

        Judging from the comments here, though, I’d say my theory has been shot down!

  12. Suitably inspired by Martyn Cornell (above), I’ll offer my small contribution. During my first-ever job in 1977-79 as a Medical Laboratory Officer III at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London (the one in the UK, not the other one in Ontario, Canada), the words/terms WITHIN the establishment were variously “Obgyn” (ob-guy’n), “Ob-Gyn” (oh-bee-guy’n) and “gyno.” If memory serves, I only heard the nurses use “gynae” (guy-nee) among themselves and somewhat sporadically with patients (because it was for patients’ benefit to always use full words). So, at least for the purposes of this article, I hope my recollection serves to show in some small way that “gyno” was at least used by biomedical personnel in London in 1977-79 in at least one London teaching hospital. Hope this helps.

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