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From Middle English chesy, equivalent to cheese +‎ -y. Doublet of caseic. Compare German käsig (cheesy).

(This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium. Particularly: “How was the 'overdramatic' sense derived?”)



cheesy (comparative cheesier, superlative cheesiest)

  1. Of or relating to cheese.
    This sandwich is full of cheesy goodness.
  2. Resembling or containing cheese.
    • 1949, George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Part One, Chapter 8, [1]
      He pushed open the door, and a hideous cheesy smell of sour beer hit him in the face.
    • 2005, Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers, translated by John E. Woods, New York: Everyman's Library, "Joseph in Egypt," Part 3, p. 633,
      He saw skin of every shade, from obsidian black through all the stages of brown and yellow to cheesy white, he even saw yellow hair and azure-colored eyes, faces and garments of every cut—he saw humanity.
    a cheesy flavor;  cheesy nachos
    I like pizzas with a cheesy crust.
  3. (informal) Overdramatic, excessively emotional or clichéd, trite, contrived.
    a cheesy song; a cheesy movie
    • 2010, Michael Clarkson, The Secret Life of Glenn Gould: A Genius in Love, Toronto: ECW Press, Chapter Four, p. 54,
      Another night, when the local entertainers had gone home, Gould went into the empty lounge to play piano with a cheesy string of colored lights overhead and bongo drums at his side.
  4. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (informal) Non-serious, especially in a fun, unorthodox, or unsophisticated way; goofy.
    The cheesy antics had everyone giggling.
  5. (informal) Cheap, of poor quality.
    • 1968, Hermann Hesse, Beneath the Wheel, translated by Michael Roloff, Bantam Books, 1970, Chapter One, p. 30,
      He would be apprenticed to some cheesy shop or become a clerk in an office and his entire life he would be one of the ordinary poor people, whom he despised and wanted to surpass.
    • 1977, Allen Ginsberg, Journals: Early Fifties, Early Sixties, edited by Gordon Ball, New York: Grove Press, "June 17, 1952," p. 19,
      I tagged along behind this culturally accomplished beast intelligence in my scuffed handmedown shoes, unpressed illfitting post adolescent suit, dirt ringed shirt and cheesy tie, hair askew and book underarm, perspiring perhaps.
    • 2009, Roger T. Dean, The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music:
      I noticed [] that when a very cheesy synthesized violin sound plays in counterpoint with a real violin, it can quite convincingly seem as if two violins are playing.
  6. (of a smile or grin) Exaggerated and likely to be forced or insincere.
    • 2008, Jeff Spanke, Second Hand Out, page 86:
      Needless to say, toward the end of Martin's first term, the relationship he once enjoyed with President Waverly had evolved into a slapdash charade of cheap promises and cheesy smiles.
    • 2012, Ginny Felch, Photographing Children Photo Workshop:
      There is something about 5- and 6-year-olds that makes them ever-ready to pose with the big, cheesy grin with no provocation.


  • (overdramatic, excessively emotional or clichéd, trite, contrived, shoddy): cheeseball, corny, tacky

Derived terms[edit]



  • cheesy at OneLook Dictionary Search