Whenever you fluff up pillows in your well-worn couch, or flip your shirt sleeves up just-so, or sprinkle some spices over your morning eggs, it’s possible you’ll be partaking within the artwork of the “jeuje.” Or is it “zhoosh”? Make that “zhuzh.”
Nonetheless, it’s spelled, the phrase is used to convey what is usually exhausting to: the act of including an additional one thing particular, a little bit oomph, to a dish, hairdo, outfit or any variety of issues.
However the place did it come from?
Theories abound on-line. Just a few have positioned their bets on Yiddish. Others swear the time period is Romani in origin, derived from the phrase “zhouzho,” which means clear or neat. And nonetheless others insist that it’s an expressive formation, like “whoosh.”
Probably the most attention-grabbing origin story can be the one with probably the most historic backing. In response to Paul Baker, a linguist at Lancaster College in England, the phrase might be traced to Polari, “a secret type of language, used principally by homosexual males, which flourished within the early twentieth century” in the UK.
In response to Baker, who has written two books on Polari, together with “Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Homosexual Slang,” the language is the product of “a really sophisticated and nonlinear chain” of occasions. He stated it most likely started as office slang amongst British sailors, who, touring overseas, encountered the lingua franca of mainland Europe – i.e., French – and introduced it house.
Since sailors knew all method of ropes, knots and rigging equipment, they typically took jobs on land as theatre stagehands and circus performers. Polari thrived amongst Britain’s fairgrounds, circuses and markets, metabolizing phrases from right here and there, then twisting – or zhuzhing – them up.
Some Polari phrases are “again slang,” or present phrases pronounced as in the event that they have been spelled backward. By the twentieth century, Baker stated, Polari was spoken all through the homosexual neighborhood in Britain, which had been pushed underground by the nation’s legal guidelines policing sexual behaviour.
Baker stated the language allowed homosexual males to speak frankly and determine each other, however with its irrepressible jauntiness, it additionally celebrated the customs and spirit of a marginalized neighborhood. “It was additionally used for basic gossip, to be hilariously humorous, and to ‘learn’ individuals with probably the most slicing put-downs,” Baker stated.
Jonathon Inexperienced, who has spent the previous 40ish years engaged on a complete on-line dictionary of slang, cited early utilization of the phrase – spelled as “zhoosh”- in a 1977 article from the British newspaper Homosexual Information: “We might zhoosh our riahs, powder our eeks, climb into our bona new drag, don our batts and troll off to some bona bijou bar.”
Baker places weight on the idea that the phrase “might have come about as a result of its onomatopoeic qualities.” Initially, he wrote in an electronic mail, “it was utilized in quite a lot of contexts, e.g., to zhoosh off, to zhoosh a bevvy, to steal one thing.”
“It was regularly this ‘styling’ sense that turned the dominant one, presumably as a result of it was extra helpful for homosexual males,” Baker stated.
Within the Sixties, Polari shot to mainstream consciousness due to BBC radio’s well-liked comedy program “Around the Horne,” which adopted the campy adventures of out-of-work theater actors Julian and Sandy, performed by Kenneth Williams and Hugh Paddick, homosexual icons of British leisure.
“It was all double entendre, and hidden which means, deeply fantastic stuff and little question would have thrilled anybody aware of Polari, to listen to it on the radio and know what it meant,” Inexperienced stated.
It’s attention-grabbing to notice that the phrase’s present resurgence can largely be attributed to that bastion of Twenty first-century homosexual tradition, “Queer Eye for the Straight Man,” on which viewers delighted in Carson Kressley admonishing his hapless new topic to “jeuje” up an ensemble by popping a collar or rolling up a sleeve. “It means to tweak it, making it higher, giving it some persona, your personal private contact,” Kressley stated. The present premiered in 2003; two years later, the Oxford English Dictionary added the phrase to its database, beneath the spelling “zhoosh.”
“Although some individuals credit score me with the phrase, it was really a phrase I discovered working with Ralph Lauren and particularly Ralph and his brother Jerry who I labored immediately with, styling seems to be,” Kressley stated.
Slang has traditionally emerged by spoken language; phrases didn’t used to search out their method into print till they’d been closely codified. However with the delivery of social media and meme tradition, slang phrases are more and more hitting our eyes earlier than our ears.
“We’re seeing slang phrases far earlier of their improvement these days,” stated Emily Brewster, a senior editor and lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. “And the variety of years that it takes a slang phrase, which is markedly casual, qualify for entry has decreased dramatically.”
Within the Nineteen Fifties, Brewster stated, it took a median of 35 years for a phrase, as soon as coined, to qualify for entry within the Merriam-Webster dictionary. At this time, it’s simply 11 – or much less. So is “zhuzh” destined for these storied pages anytime quickly? “I can say it has not been drafted for entry,” Brewster stated, “however it’s undoubtedly one we’re watching, and one that’s getting nearer to entry.”
Sarcastically, when that day occurs it’d mark the tip of the phrase’s attraction among the many style-minded. “We don’t actually enter a phrase till it’s ho-hum,” Brewster stated, “till it’s like, ‘No person says zhuzh anymore.’”