adjective Chiefly British.
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Origin of twee
Words nearby twee
What else does twee mean?
Where does twee come from?
The word twee comes from early 20th–century British baby talk. Baby talk refers to both the language adults sometimes use with small children (think tummy for “stomach” or nub-nub for “pacifier”) as well as the way that kids attempt adult speech. Twee comes from the baby-talk mispronunciation of sweet. It’s seen as early as 1905.
Initially, twee was used affectionately for something or someone sweet and adorable. Over time, however, twee gained a negative connotation throughout the English language, characterizing something as overly or affectedly cute or quaint. In the 2000–10s, twee conjured up a certain brand of overdone, white hipsterism: polka dots, bird patterns, suspenders, handlebar mustaches, Zooey Deschanel, and Wes Anderson films.
How is twee used in real life?
In the 2010s, the word twee has become popularly associated with a certain aesthetic, especially in women’s clothing. It stereotypically includes wearing vintage, retro clothes with floral or animal patterns and Peter Pan collars, cutesy accessories, and a consciously nerdy, meek, or demure vibe.
In music, twee is commonly used to describe a certain subgenre of indie pop music that has its roots in the 1980s. Generally, twee is poppy and jangly, often slightly folk-inspired, and is heavy on the love songs. Standout examples include Belle and Sebastian and The Pastels.
My psychiatrist won't prescribe me anything even though she admits I'm insufferably twee.
— Smoke Teff (@steviekoteff) January 10, 2019
The TV comedy Portlandia notably mocked tweeness in hipster culture.
More examples of twee:
“Of course tweeness of any sort remains polarising – what is endearing for some is toe-curlingly cloying and sickly for others – but love it or loathe it, there is now no escaping it.”
—Lindsay Baker, BBC, October 2014
This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.
Example sentences from the Web for twee
Murdoch is proud of the end product, no matter how many find it “twee”…whatever that means.Stuart Murdoch's 'God Help the Girl' Does Something Pretty (and Something Twee)|Melissa Leon|September 5, 2014|DAILY BEAST
I have spent an hour on the phone with Marc Spitz, the author of Twee, having him explain Twee.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Lost in Translation are Twee.
In a sense, all vintage toys are Twee, but I have a personal distaste for Legos that I cannot explain.
I wanted something that connects Walt Disney and J.D. Salinger and Buddy Holly and Sylvia Plath to what we now know as Twee.
You stand up there against the twee, and I'll make good shots.A Little Mother to the Others|L. T. Meade
I can't remember at all about the funny water and the twee with the flowers, and all of it.The Golden Scarecrow|Hugh Walpole
It was the year when "devey," and "twee," and similar abbreviations first became fashionable.
It must have been "devey" and "twee" to have gone through all those experiences.
Its voice is as homely as its appearance—a harsh but plaintive twee, twee, twee.A Bird Calendar for Northern India|Douglas Dewar