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[cheep] /tʃip/
adjective, cheaper, cheapest.
costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive:
a cheap dress.
costing little labor or trouble:
Words are cheap.
charging low prices:
a very cheap store.
of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy:
cheap conduct; cheap workmanship.
embarrassed; sheepish:
He felt cheap about his mistake.
obtainable at a low rate of interest:
when money is cheap.
of decreased value or purchasing power, as currency depreciated due to inflation.
stingy; miserly:
He's too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.
at a low price; at small cost:
He is willing to sell cheap.
cheap at twice the price, exceedingly inexpensive:
I found this old chair for eight dollars—it would be cheap at twice the price.
on the cheap, Informal. inexpensively; economically:
She enjoys traveling on the cheap.
Origin of cheap
before 900; Middle English cheep (short for phrases, as good cheep cheap, literally, good bargain), Old English cēap bargain, market, trade; cognate with German Kauf, Old Norse kaup; all < Latin caupō innkeeper, tradesman; see chapman
Related forms
cheapish, adjective
cheapishly, adverb
cheaply, adverb
cheapness, noun
overcheap, adjective
overcheaply, adverb
overcheapness, noun
uncheaply, adverb
1, 4. Cheap, inexpensive agree in their suggestion of low cost. Cheap now usually suggests shoddiness, inferiority, showy imitation, complete unworthiness, and the like: a cheap kind of fur. Inexpensive emphasizes lowness of price (although more expensive than cheap ) and suggests that the value is fully equal to the cost: an inexpensive dress. It is often used as an evasion for the more specific cheap. 4. paltry, low, poor, inferior, base.
1. costly, dear, expensive. 8. generous, charitable. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cheap
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The dinner was an excellent one, and cheap, the ordinary price being seventeen silver groschen, or about forty-one cents.

    Down the Rhine Oliver Optic
  • Tillie was no longer the waitress at a cheap boarding-house.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • Had Crisp been wise, he would have thought himself happy in having purchased self-knowledge so cheap.

  • Take the making of soap, that I told you about; there you have it, cheap and good.

  • He was so plainly the cheap sport bully that there could have been nothing but a menace in his personality.

    The Dust Flower Basil King
British Dictionary definitions for cheap


costing relatively little; inexpensive; good value
charging low prices: a cheap hairdresser
of poor quality; shoddy: cheap furniture, cheap and nasty
worth relatively little: promises are cheap
not worthy of respect; vulgar
ashamed; embarrassed: to feel cheap
stingy; miserly
(informal) mean; despicable: a cheap liar
cheap as chips, See chip (sense 11)
(informal) dirt cheap, extremely inexpensive
(Brit, informal) on the cheap, at a low cost
at very little cost
Derived Forms
cheapish, adjective
cheaply, adverb
cheapness, noun
Word Origin
Old English ceap barter, bargain, price, property; related to Old Norse kaup bargain, Old High German kouf trade, Latin caupō innkeeper
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cheap

"low in price, that may be bought at small cost," c.1500, ultimately from Old English noun ceap "traffic, a purchase," from ceapian (v.) "trade," probably from an early Germanic borrowing from Latin caupo "petty tradesman, huckster" (see chapman).

The sense evolution is from the noun meaning "a barter, a purchase" to "a purchase as rated by the buyer," hence adjectival meaning "inexpensive," the main modern sense, via Middle English phrases such as god chep "favorable bargain" (12c., a translation of French a bon marché).

Sense of "lightly esteemed, common" is from 1590s (cf. similar evolution of Latin vilis). The meaning "low in price" was represented in Old English by undeor, literally "un-dear" (but deop ceap, literally "deep cheap," meant "high price").

The word also was used in Old English for "market" (cf. ceapdæg "market day"), a sense surviving in place names Cheapside, East Cheap, etc. Related: Cheaply. Expression on the cheap is first attested 1888. Cheap shot originally was U.S. football jargon for a head-on tackle; extended sense "unfair hit" in politics, etc. is by 1970. German billig "cheap" is from Middle Low German billik, originally "fair, just," with a sense evolution via billiger preis "fair price," etc.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cheap



  1. Stingy; overly frugal; chintzy: Cheap old bastard won't give you the time of day (1827+)
  2. Reputedly easy of sexual conquest; roundheeled: a cheap tramp with a heart of gold (1950s+)

Related Terms

dirt cheap, on the cheap

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with cheap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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