See more synonyms for cheek on
  1. either side of the face below the eye and above the jaw.
  2. the side wall of the mouth between the upper and lower jaws.
  3. 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.
  4. impudence or effrontery: He's got a lot of cheek to say that to me!
  5. Slang. either of the buttocks.
  6. Architecture.
    1. one side of an opening, as a reveal.
    2. either of two similar faces of a projection, as a buttress or dormer.
  7. Carpentry.
    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.
  8. one side of a hammer head.
  9. 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.
  10. one of the two main vertical supports forming the frame of a hand printing press.
  11. Machinery. either of the sides of a pulley or block.
  12. 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.
  13. Metallurgy. any part of a flask between the cope and the drag.
  1. cheek by jowl, in close intimacy; side by side: a row of houses cheek by jowl.
  2. (with) tongue in cheek. tongue(def 37).

Origin of cheek

before 900; Middle English cheke, Old English cē(a)ce; akin to Dutch kaak, Middle Low German kake
Related formscheek·less, adjective

Synonyms for cheek

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for cheek by jowl

close, crowded

British Dictionary definitions for cheek by jowl


    1. either side of the face, esp that part below the eye
    2. either side of the oral cavity; side of the mouthRelated adjectives: buccal, genal, malar
  1. informal impudence; effrontery
  2. (often plural) informal either side of the buttocks
  3. (often plural) a side of a door jamb
  4. nautical one of the two fore-and-aft supports for the trestletrees on a mast of a sailing vessel, forming part of the hounds
  5. one of the jaws of a vice
  6. cheek by jowl close together; intimately linked
  7. turn the other cheek to be submissive and refuse to retaliate even when provoked or treated badly
  8. with one's tongue in one's cheek See tongue (def. 19)
  1. (tr) informal to speak or behave disrespectfully to; act impudently towards
Derived Formscheekless, adjective

Word Origin for cheek

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

Word Origin and History for cheek by jowl



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

cheek by jowl in Medicine


  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.

cheek by jowl in Culture

cheek by jowl

Situated side by side or in close contact: “The commuters were packed in the subway cheek by jowl.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with cheek by jowl

cheek by jowl

Side by side, close together, as in In that crowded subway car we stood cheek by jowl, virtually holding one another up. This term dates from the 16th century, when it replaced cheek by cheek.


In addition to the idiom beginning with cheek

  • cheek by jowl

also see:

  • tongue in cheek
  • turn the other cheek
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.