If you're criticizing someone for pretending to be high class or elite, you may be looking for the slang word bougie or boujee. Which one is short for bourgeoisie — and where does bourgie fit in? Keep reading for an explanation of the proper choice, where both words come from, and when you should use them.
So is bougie slang, or is it boujee? The adjectives bougie and boujee are often used interchangeably as slang words for "seeming rich." It's easy to see why — they seem to have the same pronunciation and definition. But there's a slight difference between these words that you should know beyond how to spell bougie.
Their differences are:
- bougie (BOO-zhee) - someone who acts like they are richer or in a higher economic class than they really are; old money
- boujee (BOO-jee) - someone who is upwardly mobile and is actually in a higher economic class than others; new money
You're more likely to see bougie as a reference to people who use social media to show off fancy clothes, expensive cars or stereotypically "white" activities (such as yachting or buying expensive yoga clothes). Boujee, popularized by the song Bad and Boujee by Migos, primarily refers to Black people who have "swag" by making their own money.
While the connotations differ by context, bougie is typically a criticism of someone. It's similar to the 1980s word yuppy (Young Urban Professional).
Examples of bougie in a sentence include:
- Look at you with your bougie avocado toast.
- Jason doesn't know anything about life; he grew up bougie in a nice neighborhood.
- No, I don't want to go wine tasting with you and your bougie friends.
- Did your grandparents really belong to this bougie country club?
When used in the Black community, bougie with a hard /g/ sound typically describes someone who appears to be trying to act like they'd rather be in the White community. This may include having a higher education or salary than their family members or neighbors.
Boujee, on the other hand, is not an insult. It's hip-hop slang that defines someone as enjoying a (well-earned) lifestyle in luxury, but who still knows their more humble roots and possibly still lives in their old neighborhood. A similar term would be baller.
Some examples include:
- Check out that boujee guy in the new Audi.
- That diamond necklace makes you look so boujee.
- Monica dresses all boujee in designer clothes now that she has a new job.
- I want to buy a plane to live that boujee life.
Because boujee is pronounced with a soft /j/ sound, it's easier to tell whether you're trying to compliment someone for their lifestyle or criticize them as bougie. It references a person who did not inherit their money but still lives a high-class lifestyle.
Both terms are short for bourgie (pronounced just like bougie), which itself is short for the French term bourgeoisie (boo-zhwah-ZEE). The term began as a reference to those who prefer to live in French cities instead of the country, and now refers to the materialistic middle class, which falls below the very wealthy people in the upper class.
According to Karl Marx, there is an eternal struggle between the bourgeoisie, who own the means of production, and the proletariat (working class), whose labor makes the economy go around.
Examples of bourgeoisie in a sentence include:
- The bourgeoisie of the wealthier cities raised funds to build a new library.
- Anthony grew up in the bourgeoisie, with all the societal and educational expectations that came with it.
- Everyone wants to blame the bourgeoisie for economic inequality, but no one points their fingers at the ultra-rich in society.
As you can see, bourgeoisie is a noun, not an adjective. The adjective form is bourgeois (boo-ZHWAH), but its usage is not as popular as boujee or bougie. Using bourgeois in everyday conversation is, as it turns out, quite bougie!
The English language is fluid and always adapting, as seen by how often our conversational slang changes. A term that began as a descriptor for city-dwelling French citizens became a popular hip-hop term for those who have made it into the next economic class. To keep up with modern language, explore another trendy term, capping slang. For more slang words that have changed over time, check out these examples of slang words from the past and today.