The Difference Between Bougie, Boujee, and Bourgie/Bourgeois, Explained » VSB

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The Difference Between Bougie, Boujee, and Bourgie/Bourgeois, Explained

Really? You’re going to devote an entire explainer to a pedantic semantic distinction only like 27 people care about?

Yes. I am going to do exactly that.

Why?

Because it’s fun! Like, you know how you might see a flyer advertising a concert Jaheim is holding in a Arby’s parking lot next weekend — the first stop on his national tour comprised of concerts in Arby’s parking lots? And you’ll think to yourself “Why the hell is Jaheim 1) touring and 2) having concerts in Arby’s parking lots?” But then you find yourself bored on that weekend, and you decide to hit up that Jaheim concert in the Arby’s parking lot, and you have a great time, and you leave thinking “Wow. I’m glad I attended that Jaheim concert in that Arby’s parking lot!

Well, this is the equivalent of that.

I see. So, praytell, what is the difference between bougie, boujee, and bourgie/bourgeois?

Well, the best way to answer this would be chronologically. We’ll start with which word came first, and go from there.

Each of these words stem from Bourgeoisie — a French word that means middle class.

Here’s what Wiki, the Goddess of Accessible and Uncitable Information, has to say about it:

The “bourgeoisie”, in its original sense, is intimately linked to the existence of cities recognized as such by their urban charters (e.g. municipal charter, town privileges, German town law) so there was no bourgeoisie “outside the walls of the city” beyond which the people were “peasants” submitted to the stately courts and manorialism (except for the traveling “Fair bourgeoisie” living outside urban territories, who retained their city rights and domicile).

In Marxist philosophy the bourgeoisie is the social class that came to own the means of production during modern industrialization and whose societal concerns are the value of property and the preservation of capital, to ensure the perpetuation of their economic supremacy in society. Joseph Schumpeter saw the creation of new bourgeoisie as the driving force behind the capitalist engine, particularly entrepreneurs who took risks to bring innovation to industries and the economy through the process of creative destruction.

None of this shit has much relevance to today’s definitions, spellings, and connotations, but I included it because I’ve never used domicile in a piece before.

Anyway, as I stated in a piece about Bougie that I completely forgot I wrote already three years ago, Bourgie/Bourgeois describes a certain upper-middle to lower-upper class lifestyle more dependent on and defined by activities, ancestry, and legacy than actual income. These are the brothas and sistas whose great-grandparents actually founded Alpha Phi Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta, whose Jack and Jill cotillion was their prom, and who “summer” places where people who use “summer” as a verb “summer.” Basically, think of Whitley Gilbert, paper bag tests, and quiche tasting parties (???) and whatever the fuck else they do at Martha’s Vineyard.

Bourgie/Bourgeois has also become a bit of a pejorative, particularly in the South. The reference is often attached with a tinge of disdain, as it ultimately exists as a synonym for uppity and pretentious. Calling someone Bourgie/Bourgeois isn’t necessarily fighting words, but it might get you disinvited from a skating party or a wine train book club.

Bougie, on the other hand, doesn’t carry as much racially-tinged historical context. I wouldn’t even quite call it an evolution of Bourgie/Bourgeois, as what it describes and what Bourgie/Bourgeois describes are two completely different types of people. Bougie Black people are mostly urban, have completed some form of secondary education, and, most importantly, possess and are mindful of a certain urban/educated aesthetic. These are the people discussed and deconstructed in my Shit Bougie Black People Love series.

What also distinguishes Bougie from Bourgie/Bourgeois is that while the only hood Bourgie/Bourgeois Black people have ever known is the hood of their Range Rovers, Bougie Black people have a relationship with the hood. They may not be hood, but they might be from the hood and still feel a level of comfort there. (Also, if the difference between being hood and being from the hood isn’t clear, then this probably isn’t the right explainer for you.)

This brings us to Boujee. Which has been popularized in a very popular Migos song that confuses me because I don’t know why it’s a thing because it sounds like a million other songs I’ve heard that all sound like they were created in a mumble trap generator. Anyway, Boujee describes the type of nouveau/hood rich that would totally, definitely cook up some dope with an Uzi. They may have even made more money last year than their Bougie and Bourgie/Bourgeois counterparts, but the IRS would never, ever, ever know.

Interesting! You’re right. Reading this was like attending that Jaheim concert in that Arby’s parking lot!

Thanks! I don’t even feel bad anymore after discovering that Tressie was able to say what it took me 800 words to say in 140 characters.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • NCDancer

    Can you be all three? Asking for a friend.

    • Seems unlikely. I feel like the bourgie or the Bourgeois wouldn’t really associate with the bougie and CERTAINLY not the “boujee”

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Hmm…I feel like one couldn’t be all three, but a person could definitely have all three in their family.

      • PhDivaLife

        What about folks like New-New in ATL? Wouldn’t she be both bourgie, based on her family background, and bougie, due to her affinity for hanging out with hood folks….and in 2017, possibly boujee?

        • She’s an anomaly tho… PLUS she was slumming. I mean I think her heart was in the right place…but I have a feeling if she was real about her actual life things would have been different.

          • NCDancer

            Well, I’m every woman then. My grandfather founded the local chapter Omega Psi Phi; my grandfather started what became a very large insurance company; as a kid we summered in the OBX, I have indulged at one time or another in bougie behaviors (three degrees, buying art, etc.), but I have also pulled shenanigans that can only be described as straight-up hood. *continues to sing Chaka*

            • LOL your story does not sound hood…not at all miss. I’mma need to see some receipts from you.

            • TheUnsungStoryteller

              Excuse my un-bourge-ness, but what is the OBX?

              • Cheech

                Outer Banks, NC.

              • Epsilonicus

                Outer Banks

            • Epsilonicus

              The question is which one you do the most?

            • mssporadic

              Kinda sounds like PapaDock. #NoShade

          • Mary

            That’s what I thought too, slumming. Waste of time and mental energy.

        • TheUnsungStoryteller

          That’s a very good example. I need to see that movie again. That was such a good movie.

  • I’m from the hood, but I’m not hood (usually…no it’s still there) This explains all these connotations quite well. Also, I do not accept “boujee” -_- It’s bougie…and #dassit.

    • Jae Starz

      Right! I really identify with that. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to be “you grew up in the projects?” Yes simple one that is where I live not who I am.

      • Word…ppl be like “if someone didn’t know your story, they’d never guess it by how you present yourself”

        I’m just like thinking “who wants to be a hoodrat forever?”

        • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

          I know some folks that subscribe to the forever theory.

  • Courtney Wheeler

    I’ve been called “Bougie” all my life, but it definitely had negative connotations to it. Now being bougie or “boujee” is all the rage.

    Go fig.

    • Any time i was EVER called bougie…it was a bad thing. Like how dare me be intelligent and cultured…and like nice things.

      • Courtney Wheeler

        There was a time where I was horribly uncool because I didn’t own Iceberg pants…

        • LOL good for you! SMH that line was awful.

      • Kylroy

        It’s definitely got that crab-bucket, thoughts-above-your-station, how-dare-you-think-you’re-better-than-me ring to it. Kinda stunned to see it used like this.

      • Valerie

        Yup I get called bougie for not liking Red Lobster.

      • Kat

        Or to be able to make a cheese or charcuterie tray for unexpected guests. I like good cheese, crackers and smoked meats so I buy them. I also buy hot chips and fruit loops…

        • Kylroy

          Now I’m envisioning a “Charcuterie & Select Doritos” spread…

          • Kat

            I could…minus the doritos..lol

            • orchid921

              Reminds me of the time I threw myself a birthday party (yep) and my sisters clowned the crap out of me for putting out a cheese plate! (You can guess the adjective they used.) They were mad I didn’t cook. Really? Like you don’t see this fridge full of beer like the G-Thing video? Eat the cheese and get drunk like everybody else! :)

              • Kat

                Exactly!! Shoulda ate before you got here..lol

          • DomiMami

            Kettle chips, truffle flavor! ?
            Fancy!

        • DomiMami

          Yes, the best, stinkiest cheeses! You had me at cheese tray.

          **OK Google…charcuterie?**

          …meat tray? Yeah, I’ll eat cheese ‘n fruit until I get my culture up!

          • Kat

            I’ll spend 20minutes at the grocery store in the good cheese. And let’s not get into the honey and jam accompaniments. And bread vs crackers. Toasted vs in toasted. I be cheese serious.

            • DomiMami

              *stares at @Kat in admiration *

    • Tasha Lawrence?

      All your life ya had tuh fight! Keeping on keeping on ma sista.

      • Courtney Wheeler

        Ha..yeah..im doing alright.

  • miss t-lee

    “Bourgie/Bourgeois has also become a bit of a pejorative, particularly in the South. The reference is often attached with a tinge of disdain, as it ultimately exists as a synonym for uppity and pretentious. Calling someone Bourgie/Bourgeois isn’t necessarily fighting words, but it might get you disinvited from a skating party or a wine train book club.”

    It’s fighting words. Trust.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      There are other fighting words that have been, ahem, reconceptualized.

      • miss t-lee

        Plenty.

    • Epsilonicus

      Same here.

      • miss t-lee

        Nah…you’re not out the loop.
        Then again, idk.

    • Not a compliment at all.

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      I would take exception. Cats would get confused from my big words, and I’d have to explain pointedly to them that I know about welfare and the projects, and am more comfortable in Bed Stuy than the Vineyard, despite my degrees, etc.

      • miss t-lee

        Folks will try you…trust I know.

        • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

          Facts.

  • Amen

    …..are there differences in the pronunciation of these words? Bc I’ve been calling light skin people “bougie” my whole life of principal and now I’m confused.

    • The only one I say differently is Bourgeois.

      • Tasha Lawrence?

        Cause you bougee?

  • TheUnsungStoryteller

    I’m just wondering how I would explain this all to someone without showing them the spelling of these words. Is there a pronunciation difference in “bourgie”, “bougie” and “boujee”?

    • Damon Young

      no, unfortunately they’re all described the exact same way. you just gotta use context clues.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        Oh gotcha. Oh the fun in African American Vernacular English…it just keeps on evolving. We’re so creative with our ish.

        • Mochasister

          Gotta to keep the Dwights confused.

    • IAmMikeBrown

      Like “their”, “they’re”, and “there”.

      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        That makes perfect sense now that you’ve mentioned it.

    • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

      If you have to explain it they wouldn’t understand.

  • Brother Mouzone

    Bougie, bourgie, bourgeois…whatever, can we just get that picture of the chitlins off the site. It turns my stomach everytime I scroll past it.

    • here here!

    • TheUnsungStoryteller

      Don’t be hatin’ on your grandfather’s dish of red pepper chitterlings.

    • Fed, lol

    • miss t-lee
      • TheUnsungStoryteller

        That’s dog. Is it wrong that this looks so tasty right now? I’m too hungry.

        • Giiiirl..you’re hungry for Pekingese? ?????

          • Cleojonz

            Shoot I eat me the hayle out of some Pekingese then lol.

            • Epsilonicus

              Yup!

      • DeebaCee

        I thought that’s what it was (then again, I’ve never had chitlins)

        • Seeeeee..I knew I wasn’t the only one!!!

          • Mary

            Neither side of the family eats chitlins, and they’re from the country.
            Chinese “chicken”? That’s precisely why I only eat shrimp in the fair to middlin’ joints!

            • lmao!!!! You don’t want Kung Pao Scooby? hahahahaha

            • Tasha Lawrence?

              Chinese food doesn’t change, only location.

          • SororSalsa

            I really thought that was just chitlins in BBQ sauce.

    • Catfish Jenkins

      Damon and Panama must’ve hired new help and didn’t vet what was going up on the site. That’s the only plausible explanation. I never had shitlins, and that pic is even more reason why I never will.

      • Edithebrundage

        Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !ud136c:
        On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
        !ud136c:
        ??
        ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash436DigitalCardGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!ud136c:….,….

      • SororSalsa

        That picture took me back to the first time I ever saw chitlins. It was in college (HBCU, of course). We were having a soul food dinner, and when I walked through the line, I didn’t know what that offending odor was. And then I saw them. Ugh, I need a Tums.

      • pls

        they can be good with some hot sauce. that pic wasn’t my daddy’s chitterlings though *bougie*

        • Catfish Jenkins

          I understand from the rooter to tha tooter eating. Don’t waste anything. There are several scientists, doctors in training, etc., that post on here. And their opinions are valued. But not one of them could tell me that eating the organ in which fecal matter passes through, no matter if you washed it in a bleach hydrochloric acid mix and dipped it in Col. Sanders ever wonderful mix of 11 herbs and spices make that taste remotely good. Much less some hot sauce.

          • pls

            if you eat pork you eatin shxt son. that ship has sailed. come on come get you a bowl.

    • Mochasister

      I can honestly say that I have never eaten chitlins. I smelled them cooking when I was a child and promptly decided that something that smelled that disgusting couldn’t possibly taste good.

      • kingpinenut

        They don’t taste good but sometimes parents and grandparents…make they kids eat what done been cooked. ..

        • Mochasister

          I hear you. But I was a very stubborn child. My folks didn’t really do me like that. One time my mother pulled that with liver (another food I don’t eat.). She told me I couldn’t leave the table until I ate. I finally got to leave around 9 because I had school in the morning.

          • kingpinenut

            The Force is skrong is this one!

            • Mochasister

              Tis indeed!

      • cakes_and_pies

        I grew up the same way. I saw the red bucket and knew I’d never eat them based on the smell.

        • Mochasister

          Don’t them things stank?! I’ll never forget that horrid smell. Smell like booty, farts, toe clippings, and vomit all rolled together. My grandmother had the nerve to ask me if I wanted some. I told that old lady no ma’am. Not today or any other day.

          • cakes_and_pies

            My grandmother put some on my plate and that plate went into the trash.

        • Nettiekjennings

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !uq236c:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          !uq236c:
          ??
          ??;?? http://GoogleFinancialJobsCash526DigitalPowerGetPay$97Hour ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::::!uq236c:….,……..

      • stacius

        I’ve never had them either. Both my parents are from the South and I always assumed it was some ‘rite of passage’ or something to have eaten them. Later, I decided I could forgive myself and give ’em a miss.

        • Mochasister

          My mother swears up and down that they are delicious, but I don’t trust it. Plus, they have to be cleaned very carefully. Unless you clean them yourselves you don’t really know how clean someone else is with their chitlins. Some things I don’t need to experience in life and chitlins is one of them.

      • nsu1997

        Stamp that…chitlins could taste like punkin pie far as I’m concerned, I’m not eating it either. #youknowwefreeright

    • Jazz G

      I’m always the voice of dissent but here we go.

      I ate chitlins 17 years ago when my boyfriend at the time took me to his grandmother’s house in rural Virginia.

      She offered me some and even though my parents are from Detroit they had southern roots and if I’m anything I’m polite. So, I accepted her offer and I ate a plate of chilling. With hot sauce.

      It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t. And eating that plate resulted in me having a child with said ex 9 years ago because he always loved me for it.

      I say all this to say, don’t knock them till you try them. Unless you don’t want children. They are a lot of work.

      Also, please excuse any and all typos. I’m tipsy af because I can’t work today or even watch the Price is Right, thanks to the inauguration.

  • I don’t know what sensible person should buy an uzi if they had both the access and funds for illegal guns

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      is you Ordell Robbie?

  • OSHH

    My friend Jen used to say ghet-bougie like 14 years ago and I totally got that.
    I was more comfy in that lane.
    She also used to say she was nice/nasty wit it, me being Gemini that just tickled me, knowing how nicety I could be.

    • LOL we would say boughetto and sophistiratchet.

      • miss t-lee

        Yup. When Murphy Lee dropped that song, that was the lingo for a hot minute.

      • Madam CJ_Skywalker

        LOL!
        That reminds me of when I was out on U street maybe two summers ago, with my friends (dressed in typical PG county bougie attire)…
        We had been pregaming earlier because it was someone’s bday, but a couple guys in our group got to talking real loud with each other outside a venue…
        Police came over and asked what the problem was (black woman cop)
        And I apologize and say “We sophistirachet, we can’t help it.”

        Yo, she damn near died laughing and went to tell the other homie cops….

    • IAmMikeBrown

      Boujhetto, if you will.

  • mr. steal your costco samples

    for me bourgeois is the dude in the Washington Post who was amazed that his son got hassled by cops and had no lineup.

    bougie is basically Van Jones.

    • mr. steal your costco samples

      I can literally never remember this dude’s name but he is the epitome of Jack and Jill, wrote books on being a buppie IIRC

      • cdj

        Colson Whitehead?

        • Mary Burrell

          Sag Harbor I got bored reading that he’s reminiscing about growing up black and privileged in the 1980’s.

          • Mary

            Please forgive him that one. Alma-seltzer couldn’t knock out that nostalgia, I guess , but, Lawd a mussy, that brother can wriiiiite!

            • Mary Burrell

              So should I read the book about the zombies and I see Underground Railroad has gotten good reviews and I see lots of people with it on my commutes to work?

              • Mary

                YES!! The zombie book is one of my favorite books. I think the ending is baaaaad! I’m getting Underground Railroad soon.
                Sag Harbor wasn’t my favorite either but I like everything else. (Oh, I didn’t read the poker book since that’s not my thing.)

          • Dude can write but he always loses me by the end of his books. I need to finish Sag Harbor but he lost me with Zone One and Underground Railroad.

      • miss t-lee

        Lawrence Otis Graham.

        I read this book when it dropped, and that’s when I was like, yeah no. I’d hate alla these muhfuhs.

        • mr. steal your costco samples

          GIRL THANK YOU SO MUCH.

          i would literally never in a hundred years remember that dude’s name.

          he’s a child abuser imo

          • mr. steal your costco samples

            eh, in retrospect that might be a bridge too far, but in re-reading a little of his stuff, my man is way off the deep end as far as social climbing and respectability politics and country club isht

          • miss t-lee

            I was done with that book when he said he got a nose job to get rid of his “negroid” features.

            • mr. steal your costco samples

              he’s been struggling with all this stuff for longer than I’ve been a grownup, so I have some mild sympathy. that said, he’s a social climber and a NYite and I have no patience for country club social climbing nigras generally.

              http://www.nytimes.com/1996/03/10/nyregion/westchester-q-a-lawrence-otis-graham-the-persistence-of-passive-bigotry.html

            • Ari

              Member of the Club

              • miss t-lee

                Never read that one. I did read Our Kind of People.
                I eyerolled clean through it.

                • Ari

                  Yeah MOTC was a collection of his NYT articles. I agree about Our Kind of People, but if anything it was educational.

                  • mr. steal your costco samples

                    i fight with my black (attorney) colleagues a LOT about this, and about what success is. to me, ain’t the S-Class and the membership at the club that barely tolerates me and the $40K winchester thurston (or ellis school or whereever) tuition. some of them think that withholding that from my son / family is tantamount to abuse.

                    like, i just want to chill, have an interesting practice that makes a good living, watch League Pass, play JRPGS, and lead a non-complicated life. but then again I know who I am.

                    • Kas loves Jamaican Breakfast

                      Not many people do, regardless of race.

                    • TheUnsungStoryteller

                      I must fit in the Boujee crowd because I don’t know about any of the terms that you just mentioned…

                    • mr. steal your costco samples

                      Lol half are nerd-azz blerdery and the other half are 412-centric. No worries

                  • miss t-lee

                    So educational.

                  • TheUnsungStoryteller

                    Yeah…I plan to finish Our Kind of People, but since I’m a history nerd, I’m only reading it for educational purposes.

                • Dr McD

                  Ugh! I read that mess. Well, I started to read it, but there was no way I was wasting my brain cells on finishing it.

                • orchid921

                  Same here. And now I know way, WAY too many people like this. Here’s a funny example: I made the mistake of wearing a red blouse to meet my future husband’s extended family and the first thing out of his auntie’s mouth was “Are you a Delta?” Turns out his family’s chock full of AKAs. In other words, I screwed up before I even left the house! I wasn’t even thinking about that and I was a GDI in college so … yeah. We had a good laugh about it, but my face was as red as my blouse for a few minutes! I have some other examples that aren’t nearly as funny, but I’m from the Bronx. Bourgeois I am NOT — not even with my boarding school diploma!

                  • miss t-lee

                    Oh wow!
                    *daps*

                • Cleojonz

                  I’m surprised you made it to the end. Does not sound like compelling reading to me, to read about someone’s self hate.

                  • miss t-lee

                    This was before I started abandoning books when they irritated me. It was like hate reading .

                • grownandsexy2

                  That book was too much. And peep this. Funny and sad all at the same time.

                  https://paw.princeton.edu/article/rules

                  • miss t-lee

                    Yup. way too much.
                    I think I remember reading this article, too.

                    • grownandsexy2

                      It was funny and sad all at the same time. I kinda misread at first when he said “it was the moment every black parent fears.” I missed the “black” part and read it as “the moment every parent fears.” I thought kidnapping. Lol. I had to laugh. It’s hard to believe this man thinks dressing, talking, educating and carrying oneself a certain way is some kind of shield against racism. Guess he learned that day.

                    • miss t-lee

                      He learned…that after all of that, they still think you’re a n*gga.

              • Mary Burrell

                I rolled my eyes at that mess.

          • TheUnsungStoryteller

            How come I knew exactly who were talking about? I couldn’t remember his name either but I knew it was the author who wrote “Our Kind of People”

            How is he a child abuser?

            • mr. steal your costco samples

              I stepped back from that like 2 minutes later – but I do think raising your kids to think respectability will save them is irresponsible. YMMV

            • grownandsexy2

              He didn’t prepare his kids for the real world is how he’s an abuser. Peep this.

              https://paw.princeton.edu/article/rules

        • Mary

          I met him at a bookstore and he was pretty cool, but no. I can’t get past the light skin/ dark skin thing.As a burnt paper bag colored sister, I understand it intellectually, but it feels like cultural treason.

          In the 80s the Jack and Killers were all confused since black was beautiful and all. Plus,the intermarriage stuff was catching up and entire family lines had all kinds of genetic problems. So, the boys were marrying the darkest girls they could find and the girls were dating white Latinos and pseudo passing. Ugh.

          • miss t-lee

            Oh wow.

        • Mary Burrell

          He wrote that piece about thinking their upper class social status would protect his kids from the police.

          • miss t-lee

            I remember that too!

          • grownandsexy2

            Chile…………………..

        • I saw him speak at a conference for black students who attended PWI’s back in ’99. He reeked of being a sucker from the rip.

          • miss t-lee

            LOL!

      • Val

        I’m curious. What is the epitome of Jack & Jill?

      • Ari

        Lawrence Otis Graham.

        • Ari

          Just seeing someone said it downthread.

    • And boujee is just DUMB!! lmao

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        ain’t it tho?!?

        • Mary

          Agree! So pretentious.

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