“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 lady 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 adverse. Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) can be utilized, broadly, to explain somebody who’s old-fashioned or making an attempt too exhausting. And whereas numerous cheugy issues are related to millennial girls, the time period might be utilized to anybody of any gender and any age.
It’s not only a approach 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,” mentioned Ms. Cain.
Things which might be decidedly un-cheugy, in line with its progenitors: thrifting, making your personal 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,” mentioned Gaby Rasson, 23, a software program developer in Los Angeles who coined the time period.
She mentioned she began utilizing the phrase again in 2013 whereas attending Beverly Hills High School. She needed a approach to describe individuals who had been barely off pattern. But she couldn’t fairly provide you with the fitting time period, so she created her personal.
“It was a category that didn’t exist,” she mentioned. “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 varsity, it took off on their campuses. “Everyone in our sorority knows the word cheugy,” mentioned Abby Siegel, 23, a producer and former pupil on the University of Colorado, Boulder, who mentioned she discovered the phrase at a summer season camp that Ms. Rasson additionally attended.
But cheugy was under no circumstances mainstream till Ms. Cain posted her TikTok. It rapidly amassed tons of of 1000’s of views, inspiring explainers.
Though cheugy has slight adverse connotations, individuals who use the time period mentioned they usually establish as cheugy themselves. “Everyone can be cheugy,” mentioned 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 girls additionally don’t declare to be the arbiters of the time period. “It’s also totally open to your interpretation,” mentioned 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, found the phrase on TikTok and it instantly resonated as a distinct segment descriptor. “I was like OMG, this is the perfect word,” he mentioned. “It is a certain sub group of people that just don’t quite get it.”
Alex Lugger, 32, a ship marketer in Springfield, Mo., mentioned that she self identifies as a bit cheugy. (She additionally discovered concerning the phrase via TikTok.) “We were basic in our 20s and now we’re cheugy in our 30s,” she mentioned.
Cheugy is simply the most recent in a protracted line of area of interest identifiers which have gained traction on the web, the place individuals relentlessly categorize extremely particular archetypes in starter pack memes and movies. 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 head of cheugy.
Kelly Wright, an experimental sociolinguist and Ph.D. candidate on the University of Michigan who research language, mentioned 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 phrases like cheugy are as a lot about establishing who you aren’t as who you might be. “A word like cheugy is a way of labeling an in group and an out group,” mentioned Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and the creator of “Because Internet,” a e-book about how the web has formed language.
She mentioned that although the notion of cheugy has most likely been round for some time, the time period itself is new and novel sufficient to be stylish itself. “Certain types of words go through trends just like clothing and accessories do,” Ms. McCulloch mentioned. “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’s and isn’t cheugy is extremely subjective and altering rapidly. “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,” mentioned 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 mentioned, referring to what’s basically the TikTok residence web page.
And for any millennials anxious about being behind the traits, Ms. Cain mentioned to not fear. “I think millennials have noticed that some things we used to consider cheugy are coming back in style and aren’t cheugy anymore,” she mentioned. “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.”