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.
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.