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What is cheugy? The new term Gen Z are using to describe ‘basic’ millennials

·3-min read
 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

Have you ever bought ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ or “Keep Calm” merch or unironically announced the arrival of “Wine O’Clock.” Do you follow a multitude of Sex and the City and Friends fan accounts on Insta? If so, you might be just a little bit cheugy.

Gen Z TikTokers have ruffled many a millennial feather with their assault on our love for Harry Potter, avocados and side part. Now prepare to feel even more attacked by the term “cheugy” (pronounced chew-gee).

Coined in 2013 by then high-school student Gabby Rasson, the term has gone viral on TikTok. The New York Times first reported on the cheugy subcultute, defining it as a term that can be used “to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard.” Think Basic Bitch 2.0.

Its criteria becomes more lengthy and incriminating the more you look into it. For example, clothes and brands can make you cheugy (skinny jeans, tops with slogans on them, Herbal Essences etc). The ultimate cheug Spotify playlist consists of songs like “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas and the “Despacito” remix. If your most-used emoji is the crying laughing one, welcome to Cheugsville, population: You. This one might upset a few people but the show Friends? Cheugy. Addison Rae, Holly Willoughby, and Fearne Cotton are all a bit cheugy. The Hemsworth brothers both also give off total cheug-bro energy.

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The cheug’s logical archnemesis is probably the hipster. Cheug’s love a good old Starbucks latte over anything from your local trendy coffee shop/vegan deli hybrid. If you shop vintage or are more Zara and Arket over Tory Burch and Oasis - probably not a cheug.

We can all see the fun in taking a few digs at the more basic of us, but a growing concern across social media is how gendered these social archetypes seem to be. Think back to the ‘Basic Bitch’ or the ‘Karen.’ Women are almost always the butt of these jokes, while the only prominent male archetype to take off in recent memory has been the himbo, and even then he’s looked on favourably. To be a himbo is to be loveable. To be cheugy is to be a bit tacky. In response to the backlash, some TikTokers have worked to make it clear that the term applies to all genders with users like @justme.rod counting things like cargo shorts and energy drinks as cheugy male staples.

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Whether you fit the bill or not, it doesn’t have to be seen as an altogether bad thing nor a permanent state of being. We probably all have a bit of cheug in us - why not indulge it? Maybe you wake up feeling a bit cheugy one day so you decide to throw on a pair of leggings and Uggs, or you treat yourself to a strawberry margarita over brunch with your ‘besties.’ Your best bet is to embrace the cheug and wait for Gen Z to get bored and pick on someone else.

Are you cheugy?

If you have any of the below terms in your everyday vocab/household items/social media posts, you are probably cheugy.

  1. “Live Laugh Love”

  2. “Keep Calm and…”

  3. “Girlboss”

  4. “Bestie”

  5. “It’s wine o’clock”

  6. “So, I did a thing!”

  7. “About last night!”

  8. “The boy did good!” (accompanied by a picture of some extravagant gesture from said boy.)

  9. “TFW”

  10. “Fri-yay”

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