- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- costing relatively little; inexpensive; good value
- charging low pricesa cheap hairdresser
- of poor quality; shoddycheap furniture; cheap and nasty
- worth relatively littlepromises are cheap
- not worthy of respect; vulgar
- ashamed; embarrassedto feel cheap
- stingy; miserly
- informal mean; despicablea cheap liar
- cheap as chips See chip (def. 11)
- dirt cheap informal extremely inexpensive
- on the cheap British informal at a low cost
- at very little cost
Word Origin and History for on the 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.
Idioms and Phrases with on the cheap
on the cheap
Economically, at very little cost, as in We're traveling around Europe on the cheap. [Colloquial; mid-1800s]