By now, you've probably heard of the term cheugy (pronounced chew-gee). 23-year-old Gaby Rasson claims to have coined the term, stating that it was conceived to describe people who were ‘slightly off trend’. Today, Rasson announced that she is selling cheugy as an NFT (that's a non-fungible token by the way, which you can read more about here), tweeting: ‘Decided to do the cheugiest thing possible and make an NFT out of the word cheugy. Place your bids cheugs.’
In early May in a piece entitled ‘What Is ‘Cheugy’? You Know It When You See It’, The New York Times tackled the big question. Since then, the term has gone viral. Urban Dictionary claims that cheugy can be used ‘broadly, to describe someone who is out of date or trying too hard’, and the Instagram account @cheuglife defines a cheug as: ‘A person who currently follows out of date trends usually stemming from things that were popular in middle school & high school’.
Essentially, cheugy is a niche identifier, conceived in the US, that suggests a certain aesthetic that’s almost ‘basic’ but not quite. Its most expressive explainers are plucked from the same realm as those ‘starter pack’ memes. Some key indicators of cheuginess are undeniably familiar: Double ‘G’ Gucci belts, Live Laugh Love decor, ‘Life’s a beach’ Instagram captions, Uggs, #girlboss paraphernalia (namely mugs), and a proclivity for autumn (for its pumpkin spiced fare rather than its Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness). Other hallmarks of a cheug seem more arbitrary, like minion memes, marrying young and... lasagne. Un-cheugy attributes allegedly include not caring what other people think, shopping second-hand, making your own stuff by hand, favouring Levi’s jeans and wearing Birkenstocks.
In a year that’s seen Gen Z criticise side partings, the crying with laughter emoji and skinny jeans, cheugy has been taken as another insult levelled at millennial women. A backlash has been swirling, fuelled not only by offended 30-somethings, but by critics who say the term smacks of privilege, internalised misogyny and classism, creating yet another unfair standard against which women are to be measured. The aforementioned Urban Dictionary definition notes that the term cheugy was coined by a 20-something white woman in 2013 at Beverly Hills High School, ‘on whom the irony is apparently lost’. Interestingly, when I asked two British Gen Z women (one 15, one 23) what they ‘thought of cheugy’, neither of them knew what it meant. When I asked two other British women, one 27 and one 35, they were well aware, suggesting that a preoccupation with cheugy is a millennial affliction.
But its creators say the term can apply to any gender or age group, and argue that its connotations are not entirely negative. Indeed, a number of them self-identify as a bit cheugy, suggesting that it isn’t a binary state. Above all, it’s open to interpretation and, obviously, not fully representative of identity. In short, cheugy is in the eye of the beholder, and I can’t help but think it’s just a newfangled word for cool – or perhaps rather, uncool.
Anyway, you came here for answers, so here is the definitive quiz, written by an out-of-touch millennial who is only now realising that a ‘how cheugy are you’ quiz might just be the pinnacle of cheuginess. Good luck.
You favourite ugly-cool footwear is
Complete this sentence: The most important thing in life is to...
C Love (just kidding, none of the above)
Have you ever owned a Gucci double G belt?
B No, but I have aspired to
C I only really wear vintage belts, or use rope I’ve foraged from my dad’s shed
Do you know how to make lasagne?
A Ofc! #lifehack
B Yes but I always cock up the roux
C What’s lasagne?
Do you wear Levi’s?
A Only if they’re skinny
B I bought a pair a few months ago
C I only really wear vintage Levi’s
Have you ever uttered the words: ‘I’m feelin’ 22’?
A At every friend’s birthday for a year
B Only in song
C I’m not 22 yet
Have you ever captioned a picture: ‘Life’s a beach’, ‘Friyay’ or ‘this one’
C Not even ironically
How do you feel about Twilight?
A Team Edward and/or Jacob
B Hate to love the films
C Edward and Bella’s relationship is problematic to say the least
Would you get married at 20?
A If I had found my soulmate
B Probably not
C I don’t plan to get married
What’s your favourite season?
A Autumn, who couldn’t ‘fall’ for pumpkins, bonfires and crunchy leaves?
B Summer and/or winter
C April is the cruellest month, but spring is good
Is this quiz cheugy?
A No! It’s fun
Congratulations! You’re a fully fledged cheug. You don’t give a flying f*ck about TikTok and write killer Insta captions. Get the squad round and crank up the lasagne, autumn is coming.
Mostly Bs You’re a millennial with cheugy tendencies. The good news is, nobody cares about being cheugy as much as you, so forget it. Keep the Twilight binges to yourself, wear the Levi’s and maybe start making some of your own clothes.
Mostly Cs You’re so un-cheugy that you neither know, nor care, what it means. In fact, we lost you at lasagne...