what does it really mean?

Frances Turner had a word to guess. “It seems to have something to do with foodies,” she wrote, at least that was the context of the mystery. “The article mentioned a ‘bougie BBQ,’ complete with a list of bougie BBQ flavors and condiments.” You know the strain — teriyaki marinades and dukkah rubs. The yummy stuff, but what exactly did bougie mean? And where does the word come from?

Wrong-footed readers might suspect that bougie is a bungle from bulgolgi, literally firemeat in Korean, that nation’s shredded beef and vegetable dish, but Frances knew better. “Various dictionaries define Bougie as pretentious or middle class wannabe upper class, an obvious abbreviation of middle class, but what’s his backstory?”

Bad and bougie: where does the word come from?

Bad and bougie: where does the word come from?Credit: Yo Gay

Western Europe in short, a millennium back when the local castles (or towns) developed into centers of craft and trade. Germanic in origin, a corruption of burg or castle, the suffix survives in places like Gettysburg and Hamburg. Also offshoots like Borough and Canterbury’s bury.

Ten years ago, when then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd conceded an electoral defeat, he thanked “the good citizens of Griffith for backing him up again,” not to be confused with the Liverpool Plains’ fine Wagyu burgers, which help make every bougie Barbecue to stand out from the rest.

Meanwhile, bourgeoisie, the label of managers and artisans, spread to the medieval spread of the moderately wealthy. We know that Karl Marx made the word his own piñata. He viewed this wealthy class as the oppressors of the proletariat, literally the junior class, factory fodder and underpaid wallahs.

Far from chimichurri spatchcock on a bougie hotplate, so what happened in between? Leisure in short, the arrival of hobbies and hedonism. When watermills became flywheels and the blacksmith got a hook at Bunnings, the middle class discovered the luxury of downtime and gave the bourgeoisie the glamor of ease.


Of course, nothing is that simple. However, about 15 years ago, copywriters responded to the trend and adopted bougie as the colloquial docking of its pejorative source. Doubly effective, the term alludes to both a confident cosiness and a claim. American real estate agents pepper their ads with the slang, while a salon The 2014 piece explained, “Welcome to Young, Bougie, Weed-Smoking New York.”

Things, a New Zealand website, recently published a cheesy article about bougie candles, highlighting the other jumble of the word. Before bougie found its boogie as an adjective, the dictionary’s original bougie denoted a slender candle, evoking an Algerian seaport in Bejaia, the center of the African wax trade. As such, the bougie is also a suppository and a tapered surgical instrument: a subject guaranteed to be your next barbecue stopper.

Jaclyn Diaz

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