Is reading the New York Times cool? Is it basic? How about cheugy? Well, if you have been paging through the Gray Lady you probably came across Taylor Lorenz’s explainer piece on the Gen Z’s latest contribution to the vernacular: cheugy. Popularized on TikTok, the term is essentially the opposite of trendy. More specifically, it’s highly targeted at pinpointing the outdated millennial woman aesthetic. Think: Starbucks, “we did a thing,” chunky necklaces, cheesy proposals, quote-focused paraphernalia (i.e. “Not before I’ve had my coffee”). On grander scale, cheugy is the blind following of trends. You can check out the Instagram account @cheuglife for more examples…but it seems Instagram itself is kinda cheugy too.
And let’s be honest. If you’re like us, trying to catch up with the trends—and the language commenting on the trends—you’re already lightyears behind. So we tapped Megan Collins, a cultural insights analyst at CULTIQUE to help us cheugs (yes, there’s a noun version) grasp the meaning of the word a little more…and whether or not we should add it to our vocabulary or let it explode with the force of a firework and dissolve in the sky as quickly as it came.
Wait, so what's the difference between basic and cheugy?
“Timing,” says Collins. “Cheugy and basic serve the same function: to critique people who base their aesthetic choices off of trend cycles and consumerism rather than personal choice, style and preference. It’s a rejection of conformity over individual expression.” In that sense, what basic was to millennials, cheugy is to Gen Z.