extremely online

We Asked Linguists Why People Are Adding -Ussy to Every Word

Photo-Illustration: Vulture; Photos by @jaden.desro77/TikTok, Getty Images and @itskatiegg/TikTok

Everyone has their breaking pointussy that makes them say, “Enough internet for me today!” For me it was a TikTok by @Shaylo_Ren about Max Rebo, the leader of Jabba the Hutt’s Jizz band (yes, the music played diegetically in most Star Wars movies is called “Jizz,” although The Book of Boba Fett appears to be going for some sort of Latin-Jizz fusion), illustrating that Max Rebo’s hands are actually his feet, so “technically, when he’s playing, his Max Rebussy is just all over the place for everybody to see.” After watching, I closed the app, went outside, and touched grass.

For TikToker @fl00r_boy, it was a video asking what you call the “connectussy” that takes you from the gate to your plane. (It’s a Jetway, by the way.) “My fear for the future of our language is that the suffix -ussy is just going to be accepted and part of regular speech,” he says in the video, before breaking out some examples of the grim future he foresees: Outlets are now “chargussies,” tape decks are “cassettussies,” and people give birth through their “vajussinal canal.” In certain pockets of the internet, the -ussification of language is inescapable. Riffing off “bussy’ (a portmanteau of “boy” and “pussy”), now everything is a cat or a cavity. A calzone is a pizzussy. A wine bottle has a winussy. Princess Fiona has an ogussy.

Bussy is bustin’ out all over social media. From Andrew Garfield’s Spadussy to Trader Joe’s Citrusy spices, whole chunks of the internet are being -ussified. Adding -ussy to the end of words — any word — has been a fun obsession of the extremely online, and fluctuates between being praised as high art and criticized as yet another meme done to death.

The insertion of this new suffix into our lexicussy is mostly confined to online speech, but it reflects a general memefication of language and destabilization of meaning that is popular with the young. Especially the “gays and the theys,” people for whom rigid taxonomy has often been oppressive. This -ussification is 1) kind of annoying, perhaps even on purpose. And 2) a great equalizer. It is subversive, it is Bottom Rights. Everybody and everything has been reduced to their hole.

“Traditionally, gay men have been on the margins of society and have had to come up with new forms of vocabulary to delineate a different way of looking at the world,” says Paul Baker, author of Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language. “This is often based on a kind of arch humor and tends to use a gamut of stylistic devices — alliteration, acronyms, rhyming, blending, punning, assonance, etc. — that are designed to be memorable and make others laugh.”

I spoke to two linguists, neither of whom cited a specific moment when people started putting their whole suffussies into -ussification. But a terminally online friend pointed the finger at a James McAvoy stan account, which tweeted “andrew garfield puts his whole garfussy into all his roles actually,” in December of last year. As MEL noted, “bussy” was already all over gay Twitter in 2021. Sometimes in earnest, sometimes making fun of the “Hi Gay!” energy of corporate Pride efforts. They also claim that bussy broke into straighter spaces when Buzzfeed made Taron Egerton read the word in one of its “Thirst Tweets” videos.

“​​This is a new one for me, I’m afraid. But I’m intrigued,” responded William Leap, professor emeritus at American University and co-editor of the Journal of Language & Sexuality, when I asked him specifically about the “connectussy.” “I know that Freud suggests we can view containers (and thereby container metaphors) as female references, so a Jetway as a XX-ussy, okay — that is a location that becomes a place of insertion.”

But Leap disagreed that -ussification is always feminizing. For example, when people say Willem Dafoe put his whole Dafussy into being Green Goblin. “For putting the Dafussy into Spider-Man, ‘Dafussy’ comes out as a masculinist metaphor. Dafoe rumoredly has a large point of reference there,” he said, referring to the fact that Dafoe had to have a stunt cock on Antichrist because Lars Von Trier found Dafoe’s actual member confusingly large.

So -ussification has expanded beyond queer borders into a more general- audience meme world. Baker lays the mainstreaming of queer language at RuPaul’s feet, hunty, saying, “RuPaul’s Drag Race came along — condragulations, entertaintment, Rupologize — and it has helped to bring the practice a bit further into the mainstream.” This mainstreaming comes with a soupçon of appropriation. Bussy frequently appears on lists of words that originated in AAVE and were taken by white people. Doubtless, it will join its fallen brethren “and i oop,” “throwing shade,” and “yas queen.” On the other hand, much -ussification seems like a deliberate attempt to destabilize English as a whole. The goal is not to run a trend into the ground, it is to obliterate any notion of fixed meaning.

“-ussy could indicate the female’d/feminized/femme or the masculine’d/masculinized/ butch, depending on context,” said Leap. “That is quite ‘queer,’ in the sense that term need not have a fixed or stable reference, and neither need the references to gender or sexuality with which the term is associated.” This puts -ussification in the realm of “gorgeous gorgeous girls,” and “the girls who get it, get it.” Instead of being a wholly gendered category, being a gorgeous gorgeous girl is a marker of kinship. To be gorgeous gorgeous is to be beautified by association with other cool bitches, by one’s unique and hip habits, and by one’s confidence. Or as one TikToker put it, “The girls who girl, girl. The girls who girln’t, gorn’t.”

We Asked Linguists About the -Ussification of the Internet