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[cheek] /tʃik/
either side of the face below the eye and above the jaw.
the side wall of the mouth between the upper and lower jaws.
something resembling the side of the human face in form or position, as either of two parts forming corresponding sides of various objects:
the cheeks of a vise.
impudence or effrontery:
He's got a lot of cheek to say that to me!
Slang. either of the buttocks.
  1. one side of an opening, as a reveal.
  2. either of two similar faces of a projection, as a buttress or dormer.
  1. a piece of wood removed from the end of a timber in making a tenon.
  2. a piece of wood on either side of a mortise.
one side of a hammer head.
Horology. one of two pieces placed on both sides of the suspension spring of a pendulum to control the amplitude of oscillation or to give the arc of the pendulum a cycloidal form.
one of the two main vertical supports forming the frame of a hand printing press.
Machinery. either of the sides of a pulley or block.
Nautical. either of a pair of fore-and-aft members at the lower end of the head of a lower mast, used to support trestletrees which in turn support a top and often the heel of a topmast; one of the hounds of a lower mast.
Metallurgy. any part of a flask between the cope and the drag.
cheek by jowl, in close intimacy; side by side:
a row of houses cheek by jowl.
(with) tongue in cheek. tongue (def 37).
Origin of cheek
before 900; Middle English cheke, Old English (a)ce; akin to Dutch kaak, Middle Low German kake
Related forms
cheekless, adjective
4. nerve, audacity, brass, gall. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cheek
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mildred's cheek burnt, and she suddenly thought of what the town would say.

  • No, he could not—which admission did not lessen the glow on his cheek.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • There was a heightened colour in her cheek, and he at once guessed the truth.

    Dorothy's Double G. A. Henty
  • Couldst see by his cheek and eye that he is as bitter as verjuice.

    The White Company Arthur Conan Doyle
  • A lady came to the Consumptive's Home with a cancer in the cheek, which had attained the size of a filbert.

British Dictionary definitions for cheek


  1. either side of the face, esp that part below the eye
  2. either side of the oral cavity; side of the mouth related adjectives buccal genal malar
(informal) impudence; effrontery
(often pl) (informal) either side of the buttocks
(often pl) a side of a door jamb
(nautical) one of the two fore-and-aft supports for the trestletrees on a mast of a sailing vessel, forming part of the hounds
one of the jaws of a vice
cheek by jowl, close together; intimately linked
turn the other cheek, to be submissive and refuse to retaliate even when provoked or treated badly
with one's tongue in one's cheek, See tongue (sense 19)
(transitive) (informal) to speak or behave disrespectfully to; act impudently towards
Derived Forms
cheekless, adjective
Word Origin
Old English ceace; related to Middle Low German kāke, Dutch kaak
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 cheek

Old English ceace, cece "jaw, jawbone," in late Old English also "the fleshy wall of the mouth." Perhaps from the root of Old English ceowan "chew" (see chew (v.)), or from Proto-Germanic *kaukon (cf. Middle Low German kake "jaw, jawbone," Middle Dutch kake "jaw," Dutch kaak), not found outside West Germanic.

Words for "cheek," "jaw," and "chin" tend to run together in IE languages (e.g. PIE *genw-, source of Greek genus "jaw, cheek," geneion "chin," and English chin); Aristotle considered the chin as the front of the "jaws" and the cheeks as the back of them. The other Old English word for "cheek" was ceafl (see jowl).

A thousand men he [Samson] slow eek with his hond,
And had no wepen but an asses cheek.
[Chaucer, "Monk's Tale"]
In reference to the buttocks from c.1600. Sense of "insolence" is from 1840, perhaps from a notion akin to that which led to jaw "insolent speech," mouth off, etc. To turn the other cheek is an allusion to Matt. v:39 and Luke vi:29.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cheek in Medicine

cheek (chēk)

  1. The fleshy part of either side of the face below the eye and between the nose and ear.

  2. Either of the buttocks.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for cheek



  1. Impudence; audacity; brass, chutzpa: She had the infernal cheek to stick out her tongue at me (1840+)
  2. A buttock; bun: I took the injection in the left cheek (1600+)

[first sense apparently related to jaw, suggesting insolent speech]

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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cheek in the Bible

Smiting on the cheek was accounted a grievous injury and insult (Job 16:10; Lam. 3:30; Micah 5:1). The admonition (Luke 6:29), "Unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other," means simply, "Resist not evil" (Matt. 5:39; 1 Pet. 2:19-23). Ps. 3:7 = that God had deprived his enemies of the power of doing him injury.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with cheek


In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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