See more synonyms for cheap on
adjective, cheap·er, cheap·est.
  1. costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive: a cheap dress.
  2. costing little labor or trouble: Words are cheap.
  3. charging low prices: a very cheap store.
  4. of little account; of small value; mean; shoddy: cheap conduct; cheap workmanship.
  5. embarrassed; sheepish: He felt cheap about his mistake.
  6. obtainable at a low rate of interest: when money is cheap.
  7. of decreased value or purchasing power, as currency depreciated due to inflation.
  8. stingy; miserly: He's too cheap to buy his own brother a cup of coffee.
  1. at a low price; at small cost: He is willing to sell cheap.
  1. cheap at twice the price, exceedingly inexpensive: I found this old chair for eight dollars—it would be cheap at twice the price.
  2. 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 formscheap·ish, adjectivecheap·ish·ly, adverbcheap·ly, adverbcheap·ness, nouno·ver·cheap, adjectiveo·ver·cheap·ly, adverbo·ver·cheap·ness, nounun·cheap·ly, adverb

Synonyms for cheap

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

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.

Antonyms for cheap Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for cheap

Contemporary Examples of cheap

Historical Examples of cheap

  • Cheap jars are likely to be seconds and will not prove so satisfactory.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 5

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • Of her own sort, in this single particular, were the two girls with whom she shared a cheap room.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Of course, unless father gives me one for a wedding present, it will be a cheap one.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • Tillie was no longer the waitress at a cheap boarding-house.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • For slender purses there are cheap boats, cheap railways, and the omnibus.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for cheap


  1. costing relatively little; inexpensive; good value
  2. charging low pricesa cheap hairdresser
  3. of poor quality; shoddycheap furniture; cheap and nasty
  4. worth relatively littlepromises are cheap
  5. not worthy of respect; vulgar
  6. ashamed; embarrassedto feel cheap
  7. stingy; miserly
  8. informal mean; despicablea cheap liar
  9. cheap as chips See chip (def. 11)
  10. dirt cheap informal extremely inexpensive
  1. on the cheap British informal at a low cost
  1. at very little cost
Derived Formscheapish, adjectivecheaply, adverbcheapness, noun

Word Origin for cheap

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

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

Idioms and Phrases with cheap


In addition to the idioms beginning with cheap

  • cheap at twice the price
  • cheap shot
  • cheap skate

also see:

  • dirt cheap
  • on the cheap
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.