I heard this strange word in American Dad over a year ago and it's been bugging me ever since. Not only do I have no idea how it's spelt, I have no idea how it could possibly be spelt. My only guesses were zhoozhed and zhouzhed but there appear to be no such words.

The script goes like this:

Roger (entering the room in a pink suit): Ta-da! How do I look? Employable or very employable?
Francine: Is that my pantsuit?
Roger: Yeah, it's a little drab, but I [ʒʊʒd] it up with a white belt. (opens the shirt and shows a white belt)

From the context, I am guessing that to [ʒʊʒ] up means something like to spice up. But still, this word is a complete mystery for me. I asked my English teacher (who's lived half her life in GB and the other half in the US) and she had no idea. Maybe someone here could help shed some light on this word?

Note that I'm pretty sure that I hear what I hear. It's really [ʒʊʒd]. Well, maybe it's [ʒu:ʒd], but even if it is, I believe it shouldn't be of any consequence.

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    It's season 1 episode 17. The dialogue happens during the 7th minute of the episode. It's just that I don't know how to demonstrate it :( Feb 6, 2012 at 21:56
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    How about zhuzh? (also see here and here) I don't know if that's how it's really spelled, but I think this is the word you heard. Feb 6, 2012 at 21:59
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    I agree with Peter Shor's find. That is the meaning. Whether it's also the spelling, I don't know. Feb 6, 2012 at 22:02
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    @PeterShor: YES!!! That seems to be it! This link says that "Anything that pulls in a little sparkle to your outfit is adding “zhuzh”". Makes perfect sense! Why don't you post an answer so that I can accept it? Feb 6, 2012 at 22:03
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    @ArmenTsirunyan This is old Polari slang. It’s not new. It’s not from a TV program. It’s British slang from a specific community of performers and entertainers, mostly gay. It’s something of a queens’ cant, if you would. All those crowdsourced online sources are really lame, and far off the mark. The OED has it right, of course. Research Polari; it’s rather interesting. Polari minimally dates from the 19th century, and parts of it may date from the 16th. It wasn’t till the 1960s that the straight world started to catch wind of it.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7, 2012 at 0:39

6 Answers 6


The word zhuzh, (also spelled zhoozh and tszuj) which the first link defines as "to arrange hair or clothing", was certainly introduced to the mainstream world by the TV show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Carson Kressley, who used it on the show, spells it tszuj, and says he picked up the word working for the designer Ralph Lauren. However, it was used in the British gay subculture well before that; John Well's phonetic blog says that the OED attests it in 1977.

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    Peter, I’m sorry, but this is wrong. It turns out that zhoozh is actually Polari, and as such has been around for a very long time. It was not “coined on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”, per your links. It’s difficult to date nonwritten oral languages, but it’s absolutely no younger than 50 years old. It may be 150 or even older. Perhaps you could please update your answer to include better references.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7, 2012 at 0:18
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    There’s an entry for zhoosh here in the OED if you can read it. It was added in 2005. The first noun use (meaning clothing) is only from 1968, and the verb use attested only since 1978. It certainly antedates those, but is hard to prove. The pronunciation given is Brit. /ʒʊʃ/ , /ʒuːʃ/, U.S. /ʒʊʃ/, /ʒuʃ/. The main verb sense follows: slang (orig. Polari). trans. Originally among homosexual men: to make more stylish or smart; to enliven, make more exciting. Usu. with up.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7, 2012 at 0:37
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    I've added a link which says that the first citation the OED has for zhoosh is to 1977. So it's at least 35 years old. If Wikipedia is right, it comes from the Romani word zhouzho, so it's probably quite a bit older than that. Feb 7, 2012 at 0:40
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    Thanks. The only reason I picked up on it at is that Polari was talked about in the recent Planet Word docutainment Stephen Fry did, and zhoosh came up there. I had never heard it before that. It’s interesting which Polari words have hit mainstream, and that a surprising number have.
    – tchrist
    Feb 7, 2012 at 0:47
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    The Online Slang Dictionary gives these spellings: jzeush, zhush, joosh, zhuzh, zhoozh, zhoosh, tjuz. Also, couldn't find anything else to back this up, but this book says zhoozh is Hebrew "to shine, to be bright" (and Polari contains some Yiddish, which developed from Hebrew).
    – Hugo
    Feb 7, 2012 at 12:14

In the American Dad Scripts site, the word is rendered as shuzz, which is a rare bit of slang that seems to be used in the sense of spiff: to make attractive, stylish, or up-to-date.

  • Is shuzz pronounced [ʒʊʒ]? Feb 6, 2012 at 22:12
  • I'd have to hear the dialog; just from reading it, I would pronounce it [ʃʊʒ]. I have no way of telling whether that's the word that the scriptwriter intended.
    – Gnawme
    Feb 6, 2012 at 22:22
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    @Gnawme: Listen at 7:45
    – Hugo
    Feb 7, 2012 at 11:52

For what it's worth, David Marsh's For Who the Bell Tolls spells this as zhoosh, citing it as polari and mentioning the OED example, which he believes comes from the old BBC radio comedy Round the Horne.

David Marsh is the production editor of The Guardian.

Edit: zhoosh is now included in the Guardian style guide.


It’s definitely Yiddish. The etymology could have Slavic roots: https://linguaphiles.livejournal.com/1649228.html?

Spelling is varied since the Yiddish zh/zj/ts sound doesn’t translate super well into English on paper.

  • Try to include some quotations from or alt text for the link so we know where it leads and what we may find there. Also consider making it a footnote-style link, e.g. <sup>[1]</sup>. Jan 21, 2021 at 21:40

Check out slang dictionary.....zjeuzh or zjeush or zjeuj. According to this definition, it is a bastardization of a romani word meaning to "spice it up". It is only coincedence that it is close to jazz or that word queer eye was using.

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    Why didn't you provide the link?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 21, 2013 at 7:17
  • Welcome to ELU. A link is always appreciated. Dec 21, 2013 at 10:15

Jazzed it up, is what it is, I believe.

Phrasal Verb:
jazz up Slang
To make more interesting; enliven: jazzed up the living area with beaded curtains.
[Origin unknown.]

Jazz: pronunciation

  • Let me know how the pronunciation compares with the sound you have heard.
    – Kris
    Feb 7, 2012 at 9:47
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    Thanks, but I believe it's been established that is was zhuzh after all - not jazz, not shuzz, not juice :) Feb 7, 2012 at 10:00
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    Shuzzed was suggested by Gnawme, but I still don't think it's the word. Because its meaning doesn't make as good sense as that of zhuzh in the context, and secondly, that's not the official transcript. I think that the person who wrote this transcript didn't figure out the actual word pronounced and he found an approximation. Feb 7, 2012 at 10:10
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    These have different pronunciations, but it could well be that ʒʊʒ up is derived from jazz up, they both have the same meanings.
    – Hugo
    Feb 7, 2012 at 11:05
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    @Armen: I expect that shuzz is actually a not-very-successful attempt at spelling zhuzh. Feb 7, 2012 at 20:00

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