You've probably seen the word "cheugy" making rounds on TikTok lately. After all, TikTokers are using the term to describe a whole slew of things related to millennials, ranging from clothes to Instagram captions. If you've seen the term popping up in popular videos, you've probably been wondering what exactly cheugy means. The definition of this viral term is steeped in millennial culture, and here's why it's all over TikTok.
According to Know Your Meme, cheugy is all about describing something that's "the intersection of millennial, girlboss, and out-of-style cringe." To give you an idea of what that looks like, you'll want to check out the March 30 video by TikToker Hallie Cain (@webkinzwhore143) explaining the term. In the viral video, Cain explains that things that show off the "millennial or girlboss energy" of cheugy include out-of-date graphic T-shirts, phrases on clothes, Herbal Essences shampoo, and quoting Taylor Swift in Instagram captions like, "I'm feelin' 22," on your 22nd birthday. Basically, anything millennials thought was hip throughout the 2000s is cheugy.
Further defining cheugy, an Urban Dictionary entry for the term from 2018 says it's "the opposite of trendy." Cheugy is used to described someone who "follows out-of-date trends," including fashion (see: Uggs), social media use, and slang.
Many attempts have been made to pin down what items are and aren't cheugy, but as New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz put it an April 29 article about the viral TikTok term, "You know it when you see it."
Cheugy was actually coined in 2013 by Gabby Rasson, per The New York Times. Rasson told the publication she created the word in high school to "describe people who were slightly off trend." She said there was nothing to describe it, and "cheugy" just "came to [her]." Rasson also shared that the opposite of cheugy is being confident and "looking good for yourself and not caring what other people think." The term spread quickly. Abby Siegel, who went to the same summer camp as Rasson, told The New York Times that everyone in her sorority knew the word. Even though it might seem like a dig, Siegel told the publication that "everyone can be cheugy," and it wasn't meant to be mean. In fact, people who first learned about the word would often use it about themselves as well.
The term cheugy appears to have first been spotted making a comeback in late April 2021 by In The Know's Kelsey Weekman, and since then, #cheugy has been all over TikTok. If you want help deciphering what is and isn't cheugy culture, look no further than explainers from TikTokers like @rod. There, you'll see that the chevron pattern is cheugy, along with wooden signs, and "but first coffee" merch, and pretty much anything purchased between 2005 and 2014.
Gen Z has already rid the fashion landscape of skinny jeans, and now, armed with a term to call out lingering millennial trends, it's on to the rest of cheugy culture — but not your fruit pouch purse, because that's totally back.