The Glorious Rise and Fall of “Cheugy”

If you have TikTok, there’s a good chance you’ve seen an overload of videos about the word “cheugy” lately. If you didn’t know, the word means “tacky” or “basic.” Essentially, it’s the Gen-Z-friendly antonym of “trendy.” 

In an ironic twist of fate, it’s so overused that the word itself is, well, cheugy.

Screenshots from the original cheugy TikTok
Photo: Daily Mail

The Rise of Cheugy

The term has been around for a while now, even if it wasn’t dominating TikTok’s For You page. According to the New York Times, Gaby Rasson, who was in high school at the time, invented it in 2013. UrbanDictionary defined it and it stayed there, undiscovered, until TikTok user Hallie Cain posted a (now deleted) video about the word. 

“OK TikTok, I have a new word for you that my friends and I use that you clearly are all in need of,” Cain said in the TikTok.

It blew up. After that, the rest was history. The New York Times wrote about it, along with Rolling Stone, Vox, Buzzfeed, and countless others. The term’s hashtag now has over 159.8 million views on TikTok. Users have made millions of videos about it, classifying fashion trends, TV shows, and even Starbucks drink orders as cheugy.

Buzzfeed's interpretation of cheugy
Photo: Buzzfeed

The Fall

But now, the word has gotten so popular that it’s becoming cheugy to call things cheugy. Even Cain, who created the trend, said she regrets it. After watching a video where a TikToker calls popular legging brand Lululemon cheugy, she knew it was going too far. 

“If you didn’t know, I posted a TikTok that introduced the world to the word ‘cheugy,’ and I’ve gotta live with that now,” she said. “That’s my life. I’ve got to watch girls call black leggings cheugy. I have to live knowing that I gave them the verbiage to do that.”

However, it seems like her followers didn’t agree, because she deleted that video as well.

About author


Annie Burba is a sophomore at New York University studying journalism and psychology. She spends her spare time reading, scrolling through TikTok, and trying not to kill her plants.
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