Are you scared to address the absence within you? That everything surrounding you seems to be missing something? That there’s this general sense of lack of something plaguing each detail of your existence, a lacking that you cannot place or name, and yet, you feel vibrating in the periphery of every moment?
Don’t worry. That’s just the voidussy.
Over the last year, it’s become an obnoxious trend to add “-ussy” to the end of any and every word, particularly when that word refers to a hole. The hole that the water in your sink departs from is its drainussy. A bird’s cloaca is its birdussy. The spout of a volcano is its volcanussy. Meanwhile, on TikTok and Twitter, it’s essentially a sport to create the most outlandish formation of the suffix as possible. “Andrew Garfield puts his whole garfussy into all his roles actually,” a tweet from December 2021 states.
What, exactly, is going on? To start, it’s a play not just on the word “pussy,” but more specifically, “bussy.” As Mitchell Kuga has written for MEL, the portmanteau of “boy” and “pussy” hit gay Twitter at least five years ago to describe a butthole (assuming, in cishet terms, that the male version of a pussy is a butt). It’s a term that’s both entirely slapstick and deeply political, combining the meme-like tendency of smooshing two words together with gender and sexuality discourse.
“‘Bussy’ belongs to the lexicon of queer vocabulary meant to deconstruct and reimagine the possibilities of gender, often with a playful nudge,” Kuga wrote. “The anus, after all, isn’t a vagina — though I do worry that applying a hetero framework to queer sex urges some bottoms to glorify their assholes’ supposed vagina-like qualities.”
But in the two years since Kuga discussed the bussy, the politics of it have changed further. No longer just queer term, it’s become absorbed by the straight, cisgendered mainstream, where it’ll likely wither and die along other appropriated phrases like “and I oop” and “yassify,” both of which have largely been obliterated due to oversaturation. The transformation of “bussy” into “-ussy” is directly responsible for this fate.
As KnowYourMeme documented, the use of “-ussy” has had scattered iterations across the internet for several years (“thrussy” — throat + pussy — being one of them). But outside of “bussy,” none of them became particularly popular until late 2021 and early 2022. That’s when the suffix started proliferating, an event that KnowYourMeme says coincided with the rise of the “who need they pussy ate” meme of 2021. But before it had much of a chance to be funny, “-ussy” became excessive, and soon, the focus shifted away from the actual meme and toward its overuse.
This, Bethy Squires wrote for Vulture in January, may represent an attempt to shift the language. “Much -ussification seems like a deliberate attempt to destabilize English as a whole,” she argued. “The goal is not to run a trend into the ground, it’s to obliterate any notion of fixed meaning.” From an optimistic perspective, then, the memeification of -ussy might just be a linguistic tool that keeps our language fluid.
I suspect it’s more, though. More than just another case of everyone jumping on a specific meme wagon, the use of -ussy points to our endless quest to find the hole — literally, sexually and figuratively. It’s the opposite of penis envy — while psychoanalysis says we desire the phallus, we’re afraid of the vagina, or the void. Attempting to label a hole, or just stating that such a hole exists when we can’t see one (saying Mr. Krabs has a “Krussy,” for example, despite the fact that we never see such an orifice), is a means of tethering something fundamentally unknowable and undefinable. Even the literal holes, the actual pussies and bussies of the world, ultimately remain a mystery to most of us.
We can make it less scary by giving it a name, but as we label everything as some form of “-ussy,” we’ll eventually have to confront the lacunae that surround us. Or, should I say lacunaeussy?