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Pokémon says ‘cheugy’ in 2022, causing mass confusion

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Pokémon Scarlet and Violet’s English-language localizers are clearly hip to a bunch of online terminology, and some players who aren’t terminally online are confused. One instance in particular is creating amusement and bewilderment among Pokémon fans: Director Clavell, who runs the Paldean region academy, asks, “What does ‘cheugy’ mean?”

Well, director Clavell and all other confused Pokémon players, I can answer that for you. For one, director Clavell is not cheugy. In fact, I don’t think any NPC I’ve come across in the game is cheugy. It’s easier to show rather than tell what cheugy is — it’s “Live Laugh Love” signs, Uggs and a puffer vest, and even Herbal Essence shampoo, according to The Cut. It’s basically a word to describe things that are basic and slightly off-trend. The Cut describes it as “part 2010 aesthetic, part girlboss energy.” Trying too hard, I guess. Like The New York Times said, you just know it when you see it.

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Director Clavel, sitting in his office at the academy, asks: “Tell me, what does ‘cheugy’ mean?”

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Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo via Polygon

The word itself is probably cheugy by now. It’s definitely cheugy for the word to be in this game. Its origins date back to 2013, and people started to spread it widely on TikTok last year. The word gained massive spread when The New York Times reported on it, and it started to gain traction online. And now it’s immortalized in a Pokémon game, and plenty of people online are confused as they learn the word for the first time.

How did it get there? Well, director Clavell — again, the old guy in charge of the academy — pulls the player into his office to chat, and he’s got a question. “Tell me, what does ‘cheugy’ mean?” The player themselves get to answer, out of three choices: “Something super cool,” “Being outdated and uncool,” or “It’s a really chewy gumball.”

Sure, you can tell Clavell the right answer, that it’s something “outdated and uncool.” But why do that when you can make him an absolute fool?

Director Clavell in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet talks about a chewy gumball: “A... very chewy gumball? so it is some sort of confection that children are partial to recently?”

Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

Clavell’s question has forced many Pokémon players to search on Google — asking “What does cheugy mean?” or simply, “cheugy Pokémon” — causing the word to start trending. On Twitter, there’s a bunch of people asking the same question, or lamenting that they’ve learned some new words through the game.

There’s also a large contingent of extremely online people, like me, amused to see it in the new Pokémon game.

If we’ve learned anything here, it’s that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet players are also very online. For instance, another Pokémon character talks about a fleek selfie spot. The game just has a vibe that it understands internet culture — you can see it in a few other instances of the game, too, like some of its gym leaders. In particular, there’s Iono, the Levincia Gym and electric-type gym leader, who’s both an influencer and a streamer. In the lead up to the game, The Pokémon Company distributed some news through her in-world livestream. In game, she calls her battles “collabs” and makes her opponents participate in livestreaming games.

But is she cheugy? Absolutely not — she’s the opposite.



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