If you read the New York Times, watch the “Today” show, or keep a close eye on the latest happenings on TikTok, you may have recently come across the word “cheugy”.
The word nebulous â often presented as a Gen Z term referring to Generation Y â can be applied to a variety of things, ideas, or people. Usually synonymous with “basic,” but not inherently negative, cheugy (pronounced “chew-gee”, apparently) captures everything from Minion memes and cargo shorts to lasagna and an obsession with sneaker culture.
Introduced into public consciousness in large part thanks to a TikTok video from March, cheugy actually dates back to 2013. According to the New York Times, Gabby Rasson, now a 23-year-old software developer, coined the word as a high school student seeking to describe people. which were slightly off trend.
âIt was a category that didn’t exist,â Rasson told The Times. âThere was a missing word that was on the edge of my tongue and nothing to describe it and ‘cheugy’ came to me. The way it sounded matched the meaning.
From there, it spread organically through the friends she made in school, camp and then college. An Instagram account by the name of cheuglife appeared in 2018. Cited in several recent TikTok videos explaining the term, cheuglife appears to be the unofficial arbiter on all things cheug. Soon after, the account added its definition of the word to Urban Dictionary, describing it as “the opposite of trend.” Stylish in middle school and high school but more fashionable.
The term didn’t really start to take off until March 30, when 24-year-old Los Angeles writer Hallie Cain posted a video on TikTok briefly encouraging other users to embrace the term.
âAlright TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I are using, which clearly you all need,â Hallie Cain said, shortly before moving on to another video with the text âThings that give off âI got married to 20 ‘vibes,â and visuals of retail shelves filled with wood block decorations. “Or people will say things like ‘it’s millennial’ or ‘girlboss energy’. All of those terms mean the same thing. The word is cheugy.
Cain’s video, which identified phrases about clothing, Herbal Essences shampoo and Instagram captions like âlife is a beachâ like cheugy, clearly struck a chord with at least some members of the TikTok community. So far, the video has racked up over 650,000 views and 111,000 likes, a decent response, but not overwhelming by TikTok standards.
Then the New York Times wrote about cheugy. Posted online last week and in print on Sunday, the article appears to be the cause of the recent wave of cheugy gossip.
Within a week of the article’s publication, the “Today” show, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Vox and Daily Mail all covered the term. Urban Dictionary named it its word of the day Wednesday. Buzzfeed even created a quiz for site visitors to vote and definitely decide what exactly is and what isn’t. Notably, none of the major battlegrounds of Generation Z’s Great Millennium War (the skinny jeans, side parts, and the word “doggo”) received the cheugy designation.
So what is cheugy?
Flip-flops, bro-tanks and snapbacks are all old-fashioned. Herringbone patterns, cable knit socks, Ugg boots, giant scarves, everything Hurley, Golden Goose sneakers and Gucci belts have also been dubbed cheugy. But cheugy is not limited to fashion. Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a Bread Bowl at Panera Bread? Cheugy. Ax body spray? Cheugy. Cruise ships ?, âCheug-mobilesâ, says cheuglife.
It should be noted that Levi’s, Birkenstocks, savings and making your clothes survived the Cheug Wars without a hitch, earning the designation of “decidedly anti-cheugy”.
But is being cheugy a bad thing? It depends on who you ask. Abby Siegel, a 23-year-old producer and former student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, whom the Cheuglife Account cites as having introduced it to the term, says anyone can be cheugy.
âEveryone has something weird in their closet,â Siegel told The New York Times. âWe didn’t intend it to be a mean thing. Some people have claimed that it does. It’s just a funny word that we used as a group of friends that kind of resonated with a group of people.
The Instagram cheuglife made it clear early on – less than two months after its inception – that the term was not intended to be used as an insult. â’Cheugy’ doesn’t reflect a person’s character and honestly isn’t that deep. We are all cheugs, âhe wrote.
In a follow-up to her original video, Cain clarified that she wears things knowing they are cutesy. A millennial TikTok user whose three topic videos have racked up over 3.5 million views conceded that he enjoys a few cheugy things – Buffalo Wild Wings, to name just one. Most of the dozens and dozens of videos with the hashtag “cheugy” – together they have garnered 3.3 million views – feature users talking about how cheugy they are.
Where the term goes from here is unclear. It was by no means a popular word until the end of March. Cheuglife’s Instagram page only surpassed 1,000 followers after Cain made his TikTok video. These kinds of shallow roots do not bode well for long term longevity.
Cain, the one who has drawn so much attention to the word, seems to be entirely done with the shocking discussion, especially with how she sees it being used to “fuel a generational feud.” As a 24-year-old, she noted, she has been associated with both Gen Z and Gen Y and doesn’t identify with either. “Nobody talks to me about #cheugy anymore,” she wrote.