What does cheugy mean? And how do you know if you're a cheug?

Am I cheugy? Is this article cheugy? What's going on?

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
3 min read

Turns out the cute yellow hench-creatures from Despicable Me are cheugy. 

Universal Pictures

You might have noticed the word "cheugy" popping up and wondered what it means. New slang is a surefire way to make you aware of your fleeting youth, and in this case, that couldn't be more true. In short, cheugy is a trendy way to say something is passe, and the word's having a moment on TikTok, where everyone's busy labeling what's cheugy, having existential crises over being cheugy or just embracing life as a cheug. 

Regardless of your cheug status, here's what you need to know.

What does cheugy mean?

Cheugy means something that's off-trend. If you look up examples of what's cheugy, though, you'll notice people aren't talking about big hair from the '80s or madras shirts from the '60s. Cheugy seems to be particularly pegged to millennial fashion, style and more. If you're familiar with the word "basic," it's not far off from that. Gird your Pumpkin Spice lattes. 

What qualifies as cheugy?

There's no hard and fast rule about what makes something cheugy. If you watch enough TikToks explaining what cheugy is, or check out the Instagram account @CheugLife, you'll run into examples that will start to form a certain picture: the chevron pattern, anything that says "girl boss" on it, graphic T-shirts, Ugg boots, being a little too into Disney as an adult. If you've ever bought a wooden sign from Target that says "Gather," that's cheugy. If you have merch from The Office, Harry Potter or Star Wars, that's also cheugy. 

Where did the word cheugy come from?

At the end of March, TikTok user Hallie Cain posted a video explaining that her friends had a word they used for things that were no longer trendy. According to The New York Times, the word was created by one of Cain's friends, Gaby Rassan, who coined it in 2013 when she was in high school and trying to figure out a term for people who were just a bit off-trend. 

"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," Rassan told The New York Times.

Cheugy's actually had an entry on Urban Dictionary since 2018: "The opposite of trendy. Stylish in middle school and high school but no longer in style. Used when someone still follows these out of date trends. This may include but not be limited to fashion, habits on social media, usage of slang, etc."

On TikTok, though, the word is gaining traction, with a million and a half views so far for videos tagged with #cheugy. 

Wait, is this sexist?

It's a good question. A lot of the examples you run into, whether the aforementioned girl boss energy, Ugg boots or a tank top that says "rosé all day," can feel gendered, like they're taking a particular swipe at millennial women. One TikToker, @rod, who creates a lot of content based on being a millennial, did a video specifically focusing on all cheugy stuff you might associate more with men, like golf polos, Axe body spray and cargo shorts. 

In a piece on cheugy, Rolling Stone made the argument that bullying is what happens when you "weaponize markers of someone's identity against them" and that poking fun at someone for posting Minion memes doesn't quite meet that standard. 

How do you pronounce cheugy?

It sounds like chew-gee, with a hard g. In noun form (cheug), it sounds like choog.

Are you cheugy?

I mean, if you have to ask...