“OK TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I use that you clearly are all in need of,” Hallie Cain, 24, a copywriter in Los Angeles says in a TikTok posted on March 30.
In the video, she gestures to a different video of a woman who’s describing “the type of people who get married at 20 years old” or have millennial “girlboss energy” and who wonders: What will we name this sort of individual?
“I keep seeing videos like this,” Ms. Cain says in her TikTok. “The word, my friend, is ‘cheugy.’”
It’s not fairly “basic,” which may describe somebody who’s a conformist or maybe generic of their tastes, and it’s not fairly “uncool.” It’s not embarrassing and even at all times unfavourable. Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) can be utilized, broadly, to explain somebody who’s old-fashioned or making an attempt too exhausting. And whereas a variety of cheugy issues are related to millennial ladies, the time period will be utilized to anybody of any gender and any age.
It’s not only a strategy to describe individuals. According to individuals who have embraced the phrase, the next are additionally cheugy: The Hype House, Golden Goose sneakers, something related to Barstool Sports, Gucci belts with the massive double “G” brand, being actually into sneaker tradition, Rae Dunn pottery, and something chevron.
“One of my friends said lasagna is cheugy,” stated Ms. Cain.
Things which can be decidedly un-cheugy, in accordance with its progenitors: thrifting, making your individual garments, handmade merchandise, Levi’s denims, Birkenstocks, residence decor not discovered at Target. “Looking good for yourself and not caring what other people think, that confidence exudes non-cheugyness,” stated Gaby Rasson, 23, a software program developer in Los Angeles who coined the time period.
She stated she began utilizing the phrase again in 2013 whereas attending Beverly Hills High School. She needed a strategy to describe individuals who have been barely off development. But she couldn’t fairly provide you with the correct time period, so she created her personal.
“It was a category that didn’t exist,” she stated. “There was a missing word that was on the edge of my tongue and nothing to describe it and ‘cheugy’ came to me. How it sounded fit the meaning.”
The phrase unfold amongst her classmates, then camp associates, then, when her associates went off to school, it took off on their campuses. “Everyone in our sorority knows the word cheugy,” stated Abby Siegel, 23, a producer and former scholar on the University of Colorado, Boulder, who stated she realized the phrase at a summer time camp that Ms. Rasson additionally attended.
But cheugy was on no account mainstream till Ms. Cain posted her TikTok. It rapidly amassed a whole bunch of 1000’s of views, inspiring explainers.
Though cheugy has slight negative connotations, people who use the term said they often identify as cheugy themselves. “Everyone can be cheugy,” said Ms. Siegel. “Everyone has something cheugy in their closet. We didn’t intend for it to be a mean thing. Some people have claimed that it is. It’s just a fun word we used as a group of friends that somehow resonated with a bunch of people.”
The women also don’t claim to be the arbiters of the term. “It’s also totally open to your interpretation,” said Ms. Cain. “I’ll send something to our group chat and be like, ‘Is this cheugy?’ and some will say ‘yes’ and some will say ‘no.’”
Michael Cotos, 24, an actor in Los Angeles, discovered the word on TikTok and it immediately resonated as a niche descriptor. “I was like OMG, this is the perfect word,” he said. “It is a certain sub group of people that just don’t quite get it.”
Alex Lugger, 32, a boat marketer in Springfield, Mo., said that she self identifies as a bit cheugy. (She also learned about the word through TikTok.) “We were basic in our 20s and now we’re cheugy in our 30s,” she said.
Cheugy is just the latest in a long line of niche identifiers that have gained traction on the internet, where people relentlessly categorize highly specific archetypes in starter pack memes and videos. It’s no coincidence that cheugy gained traction on TikTok, a platform that has functioned as an escape from Instagram’s once dominant aesthetic, which is the pinnacle of cheugy.
Kelly Wright, an experimental sociolinguist and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan who studies language, said that with the rise of social media, “we see words emerging to define very niche categories of people, identities and behaviors. In their core, they’re marking shared events or a shared understanding of the world. These words that emerge from smaller communities have the potential to be picked up by wider audiences because of social media and that connectedness.”
Ultimately words like cheugy are as much about establishing who you aren’t as who you are. “A word like cheugy is a way of labeling an in group and an out group,” said Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and the author of “Because Internet,” a book about how the internet has shaped language.
She said that though the notion of cheugy has probably been around for a while, the term itself is new and novel enough to be trendy itself. “Certain types of words go through trends just like clothing and accessories do,” Ms. McCulloch said. “They’re fashionable for a while and go out of fashion. The word for cool gets replaced every few years, cool sticks around as a background word. Groovy meant cool, now it’s dated. Coming up with a word like cheugy is a way to distance yourself from something that used to be really popular until very recently.”
As such, what is and isn’t cheugy is highly subjective and changing quickly. “It’s really easy to identify cheugy things on TikTok because TikTok is so fast paced and there’s so many trends that come and go,” said Ms. Siegel.
“I see stuff and I’m like, this is so overdone so I think it’s cheugy. Whereas if I didn’t see it on my ‘For You’ page, I wouldn’t think it was cheugy,” she said, referring to what is essentially the TikTok home page.
And for any millennials worried about being behind the trends, Ms. Cain said not to worry. “I think millennials have noticed that some things we used to consider cheugy are coming back in style and aren’t cheugy anymore,” she said. “When I was first introduced to the word in 2015, low rise jeans were cheugy. Now, six years later, low rise jeans are back in style and I don’t think they’re cheugy anymore.”