Just a few months ago, Gen Z decided that skinny jeans, side parted hair and laughing face emojis were clear signs to spot an ageing millennial, declaring that the trends were as old and over as the generation that popularised them.
But now that millennials are revenge trolling Gen Z for calling them outdated, Zoomers have decided to fight back by integrating a whole new term for outdated into their youthful dictionary. And that word is “cheugy”.
Pronounced chew-gee, young people describe it as “basic millennial girlboss energy”. According to Urban Dictionary, cheugy refers to the “opposite of trendy,” and “when someone still follows these out-of-date trends.”
Cheugy is somewhere between basic, uncool and outdated. And for most of Gen Z, this pretty much automatically means millennials.
While the term was coined back in 2013 by high school student Gaby Rasson, who is now a 23-year-old software engineer, it was recently popularised by a TikTok user named Hallie Cain.
“OK TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I use that you clearly are all in need of,” 24-year-old Cain says in her video which now has over 600,000 views. “So I keep seeing videos like this on my ‘For You’ page,” she explained, as she showed a TikTok video captioned, “Things that give off ‘I got married at 20’ vibes.”
“People will say things such as ‘this is millennial,’ or ‘girlboss energy.’ All of these terms are pointing to the same thing. The word, my friends, is ‘cheugy’.”
After calling millennials out for their obsession with avocado toast and Harry Potter houses, Gen Z has now added a new list of items and ideals that don’t belong in their brave new world.
To put it simply, “cheugy” refers to anyone obsessed with the #girlboss aesthetic, which includes being heavily inspired by Pinterest moodboards, having a penchant for pumpkin spiced lattes or anything to do with autumn, and gravitating towards overused inspirational quotes like “Live, love, laugh”, “But first, coffee” and even “Yes way Rosé”.
But that’s not all.
The exhaustive list of what is considered cheugy also includes Gucci belts with a double G buckle, cake pops, bikinis from the brand Triangl, minion memes, macaroons, giant black felt hats, blanket-sized scarves, wayfarer sunglasses, watching reruns of Friends and Seinfield, chevron prints, lasagna and using words like “doggo”.
And if allll that wasn’t enough, they also believe that reposting Rupi Kaur poetry is cheugy (though they probably aren’t the only generation who thinks that). There’s even an Instagram page with more than 16,000 followers called @cheuglife to outline the outdated lifestyle for the uninitiated.
As a Zillennial caught in the middle of this heated war of words between generations before and after I was born, a part of me feels like cheugy is a long overdue Marie Kondo-style clutter clearing strategy, one that encourages originality and unconventionality over tired tropes.
Then, there’s another part of me that just really likes drinking Rosé.
Sure, Gen Z and millennials probably don’t actually hate each other, and are lambasting each other because it’s what all generations feel the need to do. But unlike boomers - who dismissed younger generations as “snowflakes” for caring about causes like environmentalism and taking down fascists - the Gen Z and Millennial war targets micro-trends largely on platforms like TikTok. For Gen Z, trolling millennials is about taking on trends they believe don’t vibe with the times, like Eminem and J.K. Rowling, rather than simply dismissing their generation in its entirety.
Even then, some believe cheugy is just a way to channel a person’s internalised misogyny by dismissing the girlboss culture and aesthetic, that blew up as a way to make the workplace more inclusive for women.
But Gen Z is quick to defend their stance by insisting that cheugy doesn’t necessarily have a negative connotation.
“I think millennials have noticed that some things we used to consider cheugy are coming back in style and aren’t cheugy anymore,” Cain told The New York Times. “When I was first introduced to the word in 2015, low rise jeans were cheugy. Now, six years later, low rise jeans are back in style and I don’t think they’re cheugy anymore.”
As it turns out, cheugy, just like the Gen Z-Millennial war, can also be a phase that comes and goes. Then again, know what is actually kinda cheugy? Intergenerational wars.