From Middle English cheep, chepe/chepen, chep, cheap/cheapien, chapien, from Old English cēap (“cattle, purchase, sale”), ċēapian (“to bargain, chaffer, trade”), from Proto-West Germanic *kaup (“trade, purchase”), *kaupōn (“to buy, trade”), from Proto-Germanic *kaupōną, *kaupijaną (“to buy, trade”), *kaupô (“inn-keeper, merchant”), from Latin caupō (“tradesman, innkeeper”). See also chapman. For sense evolution to "inexpensive," compare bargain or French bon marché.
Cognate with Scots chepe (“to sell”), chape (“sale price”), North Frisian keap (“purchase”), West Frisian keap (“purchase, buy, acquisition”), Dutch koop (“buy, purchase, deal”), kopen (“to buy, purchase, shop”), Low German kopen (“to buy”), German Kauf (“trade, traffic, bargain, purchase, buy”), kaufen (“to buy”), Swedish köp (“bargain, purchase”), köpa (“to buy, purchase”), Norwegian Nynorsk kjøpa (“to buy, purchase”), Icelandic kaup (“purchase, bargain”), kaupa (“to purchase”); also borrowed as Finnish kauppa (“shop, trade”), Russian купить (kupitʹ, “to purchase”), Old Church Slavonic коупити (kupiti, “to purchase”), Bulgarian ку́пя (kúpja, “to purchase”), Serbo-Croatian купити (“to purchase”), Czech koupit (“to purchase”), Polish kupić (“to purchase”).
- (General American) IPA(key): /t͡ʃip/
- (Received Pronunciation) enPR: chēp, IPA(key): /t͡ʃiːp/
Audio (UK) (file)
- Rhymes: -iːp
- (in dialects with meet-meat merger) Homophone: cheep
- (obsolete) Trade; traffic; chaffer; chaffering.
- (obsolete) A market; marketplace.
- (obsolete) A low price; a bargain.
- c. 1597 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The First Part of Henry the Fourth, […]”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iii]:
- The sack that thou hast drunk me would have bought me lights as good cheap at the dearest chandler's in Europe.
- Cheapness; lowness of price; abundance of supply.
- The cheap of this book is incredible.
- Low and/or reduced in price.
- 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter III, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
- One saint's day in mid-term a certain newly appointed suffragan-bishop came to the school chapel, and there preached on “The Inner Life.” He at once secured attention by his informal method, and when presently the coughing of Jarvis […] interrupted the sermon, he altogether captivated his audience with a remark about cough lozenges being cheap and easily procurable.
- 2013 July 20, “Out of the gloom”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
- [Rural solar plant] schemes are of little help to industry or other heavy users of electricity. Nor is solar power yet as cheap as the grid. For all that, the rapid arrival of electric light to Indian villages is long overdue. When the national grid suffers its next huge outage, as it did in July 2012 when hundreds of millions were left in the dark, look for specks of light in the villages.
- Of poor quality.
- Of little worth.
- (slang, of an action or tactic in a game of skill) Underhand or unfair.
- the cheap trick of hiding deadly lava under pushable blocks
- (informal, chiefly derogatory) Stingy; mean; excessively frugal.
- Insurance is expensive, but don't be so cheap that you risk losing your home because of a fire.
- (finance) Trading at a price level which is low relative to historical trends, a similar asset, or (for derivatives) a theoretical value.
- (computing) Taking little of system time or resources.
- the algorithm is cheap to compute
Because cheap is polysemically ambiguous, it is not always clear whether the intended meaning is inexpensive, poorly made, or both; apt word choice, with terms such as good value or shoddy, can clarify.
- (low/reduced in price): affordable, bargain, frugal, economical, inexpensive, no-frills, priced-off, nickel
- (of poor quality): flimsy, nickel, shoddy, poorly made
- (low or reduced in price): dear, expensive, high-priced, pricey
- (of low value): precious, valuable
- (financial markets): rich
- cheap and cheerful
- cheap and nasty
- cheap-arse Tuesday
- cheap as borscht
- cheap as chips
- cheap at half the price
- cheap at the price
- cheap date
- cheap drunk
- cheap John
- cheap like borscht
- cheap seats
- cheap shot
- cheap skate
- cheap thrill
- cheap trick
- cheap tripper
- dirt cheap
- el cheapo
- for the cheap seats
- hold cheap
- lie like a cheap rug
- lie like a cheap watch
- on the cheap
- play to the cheap seats
- talk is cheap
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- (intransitive, obsolete) To trade; traffic; bargain; chaffer; ask the price of goods; cheapen goods.
- (transitive, obsolete) To bargain for; chaffer for; ask the price of; offer a price for; cheapen.
- (transitive, obsolete) To buy; purchase.
- (transitive, obsolete) To sell.
- March 24 1658, John Milton, letter to Emeric Bigot
- I need not request you to purchase them as cheap as possible
- March 24 1658, John Milton, letter to Emeric Bigot
- (Cantonese, of people) stingy; mean; excessively frugal
- (Cantonese) cheap; low-priced; bearing poor quality
- Lenited form of .