My friend Trish was telling me this evening about a particular well-known rich person’s house a friend had seen. It was loaded with all sorts of expensive stuff that was there simply because it was expensive, and the result was stylistically incoherent, rather vulgar in fact. Trish pulled out the perfect word to describe it, a word her husband, Jaba Adams, had confected: fugxury.
We actually had to discuss how it’s best spelled. But the word itself is so very well suited, because it is an ostentatious mishmash. It’s a blend of fugly and luxury, and fugly is in turn a blend of ugly and a vulgar intensifier you have probably already guessed (if you didn’t know the word fugly before). It couldn’t be fuxury because it would lose the g cluing to ugly (and many people say the x in luxury voiceless); it couldn’t be fuggury because that would lose the “zh” /ʒ/ sound that off-glides from the x.
So what we have is, on the one end, a pricey Latin-derived word, luxury, from luxus “abundance, sumptuousness”, and on the other hand two Germanic-derived words (neither of which originates from an acronym, by the way), both having meant more or less what they now mean for quite some time; ugly comes ultimately from Old Norse for “dreadful, fearsome”. Thus a blunt coupling forces its way indecently onto a pretty, glittery word, with a result of two oversized cups u and u, an uncomfortable pairing in the middle gx – sort of like being forced to kiss that terribly unappealing person you just happen to be squeezing past as you notice there’s mistletoe overhead – and the whole form proceeding from high to low, from the expensive Art Nouveau standing light f to the crotch on the oversized smutty painting y.
And so the decor is shrouded in a kind of frowsy fug that does injury to the eyes. Its very vulgarity bespeaks an excessively high money-to-taste ratio. You can imagine the faux-Roman architecture, the leather couches with massive space-age-looking home stereo system, a warehouse of assorted high-priced kitsch, mirrors and little lights on everything… The look, like the word, is the perfect match for a sweatxedo.