Is There A Better Word Out There Than “CHIC”?

A few weeks ago we discussed words that make us want to run directly into a pit of flaming piranhas. Many of them had to do with the nature of the sound they make (those with a sibilant “S,” for example), and others had to do with the context (moist, crusty, panty).

There is one word I left out, yet my distaste for it has nothing to do with the sound or context. In fact, it’s those two very components that drive me to use this word on an infuriatingly-consistent basis.


I cannot stand the word “chic.”

My anger toward this word stems from my personal overuse of it. It’s frustrating as a writer when no other synonym will work as well as the lesser option. Sure there are words like elegant, stylish, smart, sophisticated, but none have the same effortless ability to tack themselves on to nouns and create a new adjective.

Let’s say we wanted to describe one of the pink looks mentioned in Mattie’s story today but didn’t feel like actually saying that color, and likening it to an item of said color just wasn’t doing it for you. I’d probably — by nature of habit — add the word chic.

“That fall Céline coat is so cotton candy-chic.”

But strangely enough those synonyms we discussed earlier wouldn’t work here. “Elegant” just doesn’t have the same clippy and satisfying ring to it when compounded with another word. It’s too long. And cotton candy-elegant? What would that even mean?!

And therein lies another point. Adding chic to something doesn’t really mean anything either — in fact our overuse of the word renders it even more pointless, much like when you repeat “spoon” over and over until it seems completely wrong.

The worst part of all is now that I’ve called this word to your attention it’s going to haunt you in every fashion-related story you read. It’s become a colloquialism, so ingrained into our part of speech that eliminating it doesn’t seem like an option and yet I long to do so. If only I had the self-restraint. I just know that in my next story I’m going to come across a pair of shoes or a skirt or a color that causes my finger to hover over the “C” key — the gateway drug to the rest of that four letter word.

Clearly I need help: an intervention or something. Or at the very least, if all hope is indeed lost, I’ll need your understanding and support when I inevitably add chic to a word like buffalo, or Monistat. But if you have any suggestions on a better word than “chic” (take into consideration my love of punchy, quick adjectives), or perhaps a way to avoid using it all together (have someone spray me with water each time I do?) then you know where the comments section is, and you have a moral obligation to tell it to me.

  • Cartier Dior

    Sassy is always the best word in the dictionary.

  • L

    I’ve been using in vogue or modish lately. But most of my friends only give me blank looks.

  • Use a noun instead: I am sooo a cotton candy-chick! I don’t like this shabby chick. A boho chick. A casual chick. An eco chick … I think it works! (just kidding and not you but the language)

    Or go for a foreign variant: cotton candy-schick (German); cotton candy šik (Slavic);

  • Leandra Medine

    Oh! I’ve been saying de rigeur a lot

    • Didi Ramirez

      I’m curious…doesn’t that just mean “rigorous” ? Or does it have some other connotation?

      • AshleyOlivia

        No.. Mr. Merriam Webster defines it as “necessary if you want to be fashionable, popular, socially acceptable, etc.” As in, an oversized camel coat is de rigeur this season.

        I guess. I’ve never been able to successfully use the term because my French pronunciation blows. I’m crossing my fingers that it becomes Anglicized to the point where it is acceptable to say “de rigorous.” That I can manage.

        • Didi Ramirez

          Interesting! Thank you for clarifying that for me. I also find French terms challenging. Took me forever to figure out what blase meant….ha!

  • Didi Ramirez

    Its hard to find a replacement for a word that is as simple as the feeling it represents.

    I usually say, ” Thats really neat!” or “That blazer is sharp”.

    But, If I’m particularly impressed I usually say, ” Thats so a la mode”

    I like how it rolls off the tongue. “A la Mode”. Which is french for ” fashionable”. It also happens to be the best way to eat a brownie.

    So, it just works!

    • bonitachocolat

      Thank you so much! “Sharp!” This was the word I was looking for to replace “chic.”

  • Miss Morgan Margaret

    I want to use this opportunity to thank Dr. Odumdu for helping me get my lover back after he left me few months ago. I have sent friends and my brothers to beg him for me but he refused that it is all over between both of us but when I met this Dr. Odumdu he told me to relaxed that every thing will be fine and really after just 2days I got my man back. so thank you so much Odumdu. here is the email of this great man if you ever need his help you can reach him on or call +2347053319835
    Miss Morgan Margaret

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    I alternate between “totally grooved out” and “SO f*king awesome”, pared down to “ragingly awesome” if I’m taking to someone who I don’t want to say f*ck in front of.I never use “chic” or “fabulous” in conversation, b/c they sound stilted to my ears at this point. I do think it’s ok for you to use “chic” in writing though, since there’s no real suitable replacement.

  • You must bathe in glitter from now to eternity as a way to make up for your transgressions. Or maybe this is a case for the Douche Bag Jar?

    I find myself saying oh-so-{insert your fave adjective here} a lot, which annoys me to no end. Oh-so-chic is perhaps the one offense that is worse than chic by itself. XOXO

  • cat

    Is fetch never going to happen, guys? Is it NEVER going to happen?

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Mona S

    I’m so done with it, too. Let’s make fetch happen. ;P

  • Heyjenay

    Cotton candy-fierce! Ha!

  • Natalie

    People throw any adjective or noun in front of CHIC and think they’ve described their’s or someone else’s style perfectly. The description is usually on point. That is why it is so annoyingly overused and so difficult to replace!

  • marypoppings

    I thought I was the only one! How about we just make up a new word all together? It has to have the letter “X” in it?

  • Alejandra

    OMG. I am not going to lie, I feel a little bit…RUINED… after reading this. I am just going to continue my over usage of the word Chic. I CAN’T CHANGE.

  • Erica Duran

    swank or dap maybe?

  • kaitlyn conway

    how about “sharp” . “that girl always looks so sharp!”

  • Chloe


  • Emily Golding

    I say classy but I think that could be just as bad!

  • Sasha Jane Shanks

    I love ‘chic’ but only on the proviso that it’s not connected via hyphen to some ridiculous description à la the aforementioned ‘cotton-candy-chic’.
    On its own it makes me think of French elegance and timelessness. Which is never a bad thing!

  • Alex Rothenberg

    De rigeur?

  • Marianna Spanos

    Organic when it comes to characterising architecture and architectural development processes

    Abstract when describing creative works forced into the realm of art

    Succulent used to describe every at least one ingredient of any given recipe in culinary shows


    I feel you …Can’t stand that word.

  • Kira Klaas

    There is a better word, and that word is soignée. I came across it in Vogue (of course), and it is everything I ever want to be.

  • Man hau yee

    Finally someone ask the question!
    So frustrated when every time i need to use this word “chic”. I feel really difficult to get “chic” replaced, especially when i want word with just 1 syllable. Anyway, “vogue” is the only choice i found working at the moment.