cheek by jowl

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Alternative forms[edit]


cheek by jowl

  1. In very close physical proximity, crowded together.
    • 1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, chapter 17, in The Essayes, [], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], OCLC 946730821:
      Wee see Merchants, countrey-Justices, and Artificers to march cheeke by joll with our Nobilitie, in valour, and militarie discipline.
    • 2012, Helen Pidd, The Guardian, 8 April:
      he had made his peace with the idea of spending half-term cheek-by-jowl on a cruise ship with the world's biggest Titanic enthusiasts.
  2. (by extension) In very close or intimate association.
    • 1929, Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own:
      By so doing you will certainly profit the art of fiction. For books have a way of influencing each other. Fiction will be much the better for standing cheek by jowl with poetry and philosophy.
    • 2009, John Fabian Witt, Patriots and Cosmopolitans: Hidden Histories of American Law:
      Exit and voice, social theorist Albert O. Hirschman's famous dichotomous strategies, collided in the South Carolina countryside, where renewed commitment to the nation existed cheek by jowl with exit from it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The similar expression cheek to cheek implies a cozy, romantic situation, while cheek by jowl implies rather the opposite, being cramped or crowded.
  • cheek by jowl is chiefly British, while cheek to jowl is chiefly American usage.


See also[edit]