The Boujee Breakdown: From Bourgeoisie to Bougie and Beyond

by Alex Harris

11th October, 2023

The Boujee Breakdown: From Bourgeoisie to Bougie and Beyond

In today’s pop culture, the terms bougie and boujee have become increasingly popular, often used interchangeably. But what do they really mean, and how did they evolve into the slang we know today? Let’s dive deep into the world of boujee.

Origins of Boujee

Both bougie and boujee trace their roots back to the French word Bourgeoisie. Historically, this term referred to the middle class, particularly in a capitalist society. The bourgeoisie were often associated with materialism and conventional attitudes. German philosopher Karl Marx notably used the term to describe the ruling upper class during the Industrial Revolution.

Bougie vs. Boujee: The Subtle Differences

While bougie and boujee might sound similar, they carry distinct nuances:

  • Bougie (BOO-zhee): This term is often used to describe someone who pretends to be wealthier or of a higher class than they truly are. It’s an adjective that paints a picture of someone who is trying to mimic the lifestyle of the rich, often without the means to genuinely afford it. For instance, someone might be called bougie for flaunting designer knock-offs or for constantly posting lavish vacation photos when they’re deep in debt. Example: “She always dines at five-star restaurants but can’t pay her rent on time. So bougie.”
  • Boujee (BOO-gee): This term, on the other hand, has a more positive connotation. It’s often used in African-American slang to describe someone who has risen from humble beginnings to achieve wealth and success, but still remains connected to their roots. The term gained significant traction with the release of the hip-hop song “Bad and Boujee” by Migos in 2016.Example: “He grew up in a rough neighborhood, but now he’s a successful entrepreneur. That’s boujee.”

The Evolution of Boujee in Pop Culture

The term bougie entered the slang lexicon around the 1960s and 1970s. It was initially a way to mock those who were middle-class but pretended to be of a higher socio-economic status. Fast forward to 2016, and the term boujee was popularised by the aforementioned Migos song, which painted it in a more positive light. The song portrayed boujee as a term of empowerment, suggesting self-made wealth without forgetting one’s roots.

Boujee in Everyday Use

Here are some examples to illustrate the use of these terms:

  • “Eating avocado on toast and drinking Starbucks every day is so bougie.”
  • “She might drive a luxury car now, but she never forgets where she came from. She’s boujee.”


While bougie and boujee both stem from the same French origin, their modern interpretations differ. Bougie is often a critique, pointing out pretentiousness or a façade of wealth. In contrast, boujee celebrates genuine success and upward mobility, especially when one remains true to their origins.

Understanding the nuances of these terms not only enriches our vocabulary but also offers a glimpse into societal attitudes towards wealth, class, and authenticity.

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