‘Bougie’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on March 17, 2023

Did someone say ‘bougie,’ and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.


  • Is a slang term that is short for ‘bourgeois.’ It is often used in a derogatory way to describe a person that is concerned with social status and appearing wealthy through their lifestyle and material possessions.

What Does 'Bougie' Mean?

‘Bougie’ is a slang term that has a few different meanings:

  • “Characteristic of or relating to a person who indulges in some of the comforts and luxuries of a fancy lifestyle.”
  • “Characteristic of or relating to an individual that aspires to be upper middle class, particularly when they are regarded as snobbish or elitist.”
  • “Characteristic of or relating to an individual who flaunts newly acquired wealth without necessarily embracing the pretensions and cultural values of the upper middle class.”

This phrase is sometimes used in a disparaging way, meaning that it is used as an insult.

Someone might call another person ‘bougie’ if they seem to value money, education, and social class or if they are particularly interested in having expensive and unusual things.

You might also see this word written as ‘boujee’ or ‘bourgie.’

Some of the things that American ‘bougie’ people like, according to a number of sources from around the web, include:

  • Going to brunch
  • Organic and free-range food
  • Designer coffee
  • Rosé
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Electric cars
  • Unpaid internships
  • Liberal arts colleges
  • Private high schools
  • The New Yorker
  • Showing off name brands and labels

Where Does 'Bougie' Come From?

The word ‘bougie’ comes from the French word ‘bourgeoisie,’ which means ‘of middle-class status.’

The 'Bourgeoisie' and the Communist Manifesto

‘Bourgeoisie’ is a word that dates back to revolutionary France. The word is associated with the Communist Manifesto, the famous text by Karl Marx. In this book, Marx illustrates class struggle through two types of economic status: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

Within this philosophy, the producers and owners in factory life and industrialization were the bourgeoisie. He characterized these people as valuing profit and property and maintaining their social status.

The proletariat, on the other hand, was the working class. It also has a slang version– ‘prole’--, but this word isn’t used nearly as much in the contemporary vernacular as ‘bougie.’

The Evolution of 'Bourgeoisie' and 'Bougie'

Though ‘bourgeoise’ had a more specific meaning in the past, the adjective form ‘bourgeois’ has evolved to refer to a more generic description of middle-class and upper-middle-class materialism.

These days, ‘bougie’ is used to describe people that are “aspiring to be a higher class than one is.” It is often used as a derogatory term to describe someone that tries to create an air of upper-class status or wealth around themselves, whether or not it’s actually true.

The word ‘bourgeois’ dates back to the 1560s with the meaning “of or pertaining to the French middle class.” It comes from the Old French ‘burgeis’ and ‘borjois’ meaning “town dweller,” which was used as a distinction from the word “peasant.”

Later on, the word was extended to people of middle-class rank from other countries. The sense of the word meaning “middle-class in manners or taste; aesthetically or socially convention” dates back to 1764.

The meaning of ‘bourgeois’ found in communist and socialist writing emerged in the second half of the 19th century with the definition of “anyone deemed an exploiter of the proletariat, a capitalist.”

'Bougie' in the Modern Lexicon

Using the GoogleTrends tool, we can see how interest over time has increased for the term 'bougie' since 2004. Interestingly, 'bourgeois' is no less popular search term than 'bougie,' which wasn't the case until about 2016.

The search term 'bourgeois' is more common in a handful of states, including most of the New England states, Louisiana, Oregon, Wyoming, Missouri, and Kansas. In the rest of the U.S., 'bougie' is the more common search term.

Examples of 'Bougie' In Sentences

How would 'bougie' be used in a sentence?

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • “He is always going out to bougie restaurants to buy food he can’t afford.”
  • “Thomas accused me of being bougie after he looked through my Instagram photos.”
  • “I met Amanda’s fiance the other day. He seemed nice enough, but it’s hard for me to picture her married to someone that’s so bougie.”
  • “Rachael is always traveling around the world and sharing pictures on her social media of lavish dinners. So many of our friends from high school are so impressed with her lifestyle, but it seems really bougie to me.”
  • You’re so bougie now! What happened to the radical person I used to know?”
  • “I used to see him at punk shows all the time, but now he’s completely bougie. All he talks about are his new fancy gadgets and the expensive vacations they take.”
  • “I can tell that Jason has absolutely no life experience– he’s going to be bowled over by life when he finally leaves his parent’s house. His whole upbringing was the definition of bougie.”
  • “I can’t stand hanging out with my co-workers outside of work. They are so concerned with their social status it’s impossible to have a real conversation with any of them. I don’t know why everyone I work with is so bougie.”

Final Thoughts About 'Bougie'

‘Bougie’ is a slang word that is an abbreviation of the French term ‘bourgeois.’ It is often used in a somewhat derogatory way to describe another individual that the speaker thinks is primarily concerned with appearing wealthy and their social status through their material possessions and lifestyle.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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