The term, cheugy, was first popularised by 24-year-old TikTok user Hallie Cain, who introduced the word to the mainstream in a video that has since been viewed more than 600,000 times.
“OK TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I use that you clearly are all in need of,” Cain began the video, before explaining that the term can be used to refer to people who brag about being married at 20, or who use the term “girl-boss energy”.
Another example video shows home decor with phrases, with Cain continuing: “All of these terms are pointing to the same thing. The word my friends is cheugy.”
According to Cain, and a Urban Dictionary definition, cheugy is the “opposite of trendy” and is used when someone follows out-of-date trends.
To clarify the types of things she is referring to, Cain then gave specific examples, listing graphic T-shirts and hats, and pretty much any clothing with phrases, as well as Herbal Essences shampoos and some Instagram captions.
In a New York Times piece published last week about the adjective, which goes a step further in the definition, journalist Taylor Lorenz writes: “It’s not quite ‘basic,’ which can describe someone who is a conformist or perhaps generic in their tastes, and it’s not quite ‘uncool.’ It’s not embarrassing or even always negative.”
Rather, cheugy, which is pronounced “chew-ghee,” can be used to generally describe something or someone that is no longer trendy.
And, as Lorenz notes, although“a lot of cheugy things are associated with millennial women, the term can be applied to anyone of any gender and any age”.
In regards to the origin of the word, Gaby Rasson, a 23-year-old software developer living in Los Angeles, told The Times that she coined the term in 2013 when she was still in high school.
“It was a category that didn’t exist,” she said. “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.”
Since then, the term’s usage has grown, with Cain revealing that the definition is not concrete, as one person’s interpretation of cheugy may not be true for another.
For a more complete definition of things that are and aren’t cheugy, InTheKnow, the first outlet to report on the trend, notes thatCain has directed people to the Instagram account @cheuglife.
As for what is not considered cheugy, Lorenz reports that things such as thrifting, Birkenstocks, making your own home decor and handmade products are “decidedly un-cheugy,” according to the driving forces behind the term.
Not caring what others think is also not cheugy, with Rasson noting: “Looking good for yourself and not caring what other people think, that confidence exudes non-cheugyness.”
On Twitter, the word and its meaning has been met with various responses, with some mocking the idea while others have embraced their self-declared cheugyness.
“It’s definitely cheugy to try to come up with the word ‘cheugy,’” one person tweeted, while another said: “Using the word “cheugy” is cheugy.”
“I was today years old when I realised I am the epitome of cheugy and honestly, I am here for it,” someone else wrote.