By Taylor Lorenz
“OK TikTok, I’ve a brand new phrase for you that my pals and I take advantage of that you just clearly are all in want of,” Hallie Cain, 24, a copywriter in Los Angeles says in a TikTok posted March 30.
Within the video, she gestures to a different video of a lady who’s describing “the kind of individuals who get married at 20 years outdated” or have millennial “girlboss vitality” and who wonders: What can we name this sort of individual?
“I hold seeing movies like this,” Cain says in her TikTok. “The phrase, my buddy, is ‘cheugy.’”
It’s not fairly “fundamental,” 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 all the time destructive. Cheugy (pronounced chew-gee) can be utilized, broadly, to explain somebody who’s old-fashioned or attempting too arduous. 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 folks. Based on individuals who have embraced the phrase, the next are additionally cheugy: The Hype Home, Golden Goose sneakers, something related to Barstool Sports activities, Gucci belts with the big double “G” brand, being actually into sneaker tradition, Rae Dunn pottery, and something chevron.
“One in every of my pals mentioned lasagna is cheugy,” Cain mentioned.
Issues which are decidedly un-cheugy, in keeping with its progenitors: thrifting, making your individual garments, handmade merchandise, Levi’s denims, Birkenstocks, residence decor not discovered at Goal.
“Wanting good for your self and never caring what different folks assume, 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 Excessive Faculty. She wished a approach to describe individuals who had been barely off pattern. However she couldn’t fairly provide you with the suitable time period, so she created her personal.
“It was a class that didn’t exist,” she mentioned. “There was a lacking phrase that was on the sting of my tongue and nothing to explain it and ‘cheugy’ got here to me. The way it sounded match the that means.”
The phrase unfold amongst her classmates, then camp pals, then, when her pals went off to varsity, it took off on their campuses.
“Everybody in our sorority is aware of the phrase cheugy,” mentioned Abby Siegel, 23, a producer and former scholar on the College of Colorado, Boulder, who mentioned she discovered the phrase at a summer season camp that Rasson additionally attended.
However cheugy was under no circumstances mainstream till Cain posted her TikTok. It shortly amassed a whole lot of hundreds of views, inspiring explainers.
Although cheugy has slight destructive connotations, individuals who use the time period mentioned they usually establish as cheugy themselves.
“Everybody might be cheugy,” Siegel mentioned. “Everybody has one thing cheugy of their closet. We didn’t intend for it to be a imply factor. Some folks have claimed that it’s. It’s only a enjoyable phrase we used as a bunch of pals that by some means resonated with a bunch of individuals.”
The ladies additionally don’t declare to be the arbiters of the time period.
“It’s additionally completely open to your interpretation,” Cain mentioned. “I’ll ship one thing to our group chat and be like, ‘Is that this cheugy?’ and a few will say ‘sure’ and a few 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 used to be like OMG, that is the proper phrase,” he mentioned. “It’s a sure subgroup of folks that simply don’t fairly get it.”
Alex Lugger, 32, a ship marketer in Springfield, Missouri, mentioned that she self identifies as a bit cheugy. (She additionally discovered concerning the phrase by way of TikTok.)
“We had been fundamental 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 folks 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 doctoral candidate on the College of Michigan who research language, mentioned that with the rise of social media, “we see phrases rising to outline very area of interest classes of individuals, identities and behaviors. Of their core, they’re marking shared occasions or a shared understanding of the world. These phrases that emerge from smaller communities have the potential to be picked up by wider audiences due to social media and that connectedness.”
In the end phrases like cheugy are as a lot about establishing who you aren’t as who you might be.
“A phrase like cheugy is a manner of labeling an in group and an out group,” mentioned Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and the creator of “As a result of Web,” 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.
“Sure forms of phrases undergo developments identical to clothes and niknaks do,” McCulloch mentioned. “They’re modern for some time and exit of vogue. The phrase for cool will get changed each few years, cool sticks round as a background world. Groovy meant cool, now it’s dated. Arising with a phrase like cheugy is a approach to distance your self from one thing that was once actually in style till very lately.”
As such, what’s and isn’t cheugy is extremely subjective and altering shortly.
“It’s very easy to establish cheugy issues on TikTok as a result of TikTok is so quick paced an there’s so many developments that come and go,” Siegel mentioned.
“I see stuff and I’m like, that is so overdone so I believe it’s cheugy. Whereas if I didn’t see it on my ‘For You’ web page, I wouldn’t assume it was cheugy,” she mentioned, referring to what’s primarily the TikTok residence web page.
And for any millennials nervous about being behind the developments, Cain mentioned to not fear.
“I believe millennials have seen that some issues we used to think about cheugy are coming again in fashion and aren’t cheugy anymore,” she mentioned. “After I was first launched to the phrase in 2015, low rise denims had been cheugy. Now, six years later, low rise denims are again in fashion and I don’t assume they’re cheugy anymore.”