Definition of cheap in English:



  • 1Low in price, especially in relation to similar items or services.

    ‘local buses were reliable and cheap’
    • ‘The fast food restaurants are serving up vast portions of cheap, fatty food which is causing obesity and illness among their customers.’
    • ‘It is a relatively small price to pay, however, for the abundance of cheap beer, divine chocolate eclairs and great restaurants he enjoys throughout Sofia.’
    • ‘In the report, supermarkets admitted low-cost packaging was one of the reasons they charged less for their cheap lines.’
    • ‘The service this offers is cheap, safe and allows clients to remain at a distance until they are convinced they are in touch with someone they really want to meet.’
    • ‘We are now paying a very high price for commercialising and politicising what was a very good and certainly very cheap health service.’
    • ‘Even now, restaurant food is quite cheap, albeit a bit risky.’
    • ‘It's true, the area is full of art galleries in old houses, trendy restaurants, cheap Victorian houses, and yes, good beer.’
    • ‘Wireless Internet service is a cheap and viable connectivity option.’
    • ‘People are used to cheap film development services, because these shops do not include the cost of the pollution they create in developing film into their prices.’
    • ‘There is a huge difference between an online bookmaker and a firm who offer services in cheap flights, car hire and internet cafés.’
    • ‘Surely the good folk of Chapelfields would sell inheritances for a cheap, efficient service, where trains come by every three minutes.’
    • ‘Any way you cut it, cleaning services are not cheap.’
    • ‘I've read most of it so can strongly recommend books like this that detail the places to visit, cost and includes tips on where to go for great service and a cheap deal.’
    • ‘Residents have been warned to beware of unsolicited traders who call at houses in York offering cheap services such as driveway resurfacing.’
    • ‘The aim of this company was to provide a communications service as cheap as possible to all citizens without any form of discrimination.’
    • ‘The food was cheap, the service cheerful and the company convivial when eight of us opted for an easy meal recently.’
    • ‘That could, in turn, cause prices of oil to slump to the detriment of the Saudi economy and its ability to provide cheap public services.’
    • ‘This salon is one of the most expensive in Dublin, where I live - so it isn't a case of cheap haircuts or services.’
    • ‘Bradford has in recent times lost a lot of its manufacturing jobs and these have been replaced by cheap service jobs like takeaways, hotels and cleaners.’
    • ‘Anyone fancy starting a cheap express bus service to Manchester?’
    inexpensive, low-priced, low-price, low-cost, economical, economic, competitive, affordable, reasonable, reasonably priced, moderately priced, keenly priced, budget, economy, cheap and cheerful, bargain, cut-rate, cut-price, half-price, sale-price, sale, reduced, on special offer, marked down, discounted, discount, rock-bottom, giveaway
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    1. 1.1 Charging low prices.
      ‘a cheap restaurant’
      • ‘If anything comes out of this, it's the sheer lunacy of expecting to run a cheap, universal postal service in the age of electronic mail and demanding it make a profit.’
      • ‘The restaurants were cheap, wonderfully varied, and within walking distance.’
      • ‘Some coffee shops and cheap restaurants were open, and even the city's double-decker public buses were moving in very light traffic.’
      • ‘We all ran and hid in this cheap motel's restaurant.’
      • ‘By the shore there are renowned restaurants, while the street is lined with cheap cafes and second-hand shops.’
      • ‘That evening I bought a dinner in a cheap restaurant near the lodging house.’
      • ‘Also, it was pretty cheap too, compared to some of the other restaurants I've been to lately!’
      • ‘Soon she has a job at a service station and a cheap place to stay.’
      • ‘These places aren't cheap, but the quality is outstanding.’
      • ‘He researched the building they would be breaking into, and he found a cheap hotel near there.’
      • ‘It's not a cheap restaurant, and nor does it need to be.’
      • ‘Then there is the country's woeful provision of cheap, child-friendly restaurants.’
      • ‘The road takes in long deserted beaches, paddy fields, avenues of trees and various cheap hotels and restaurants.’
      • ‘This cheap and chic restaurant is run by an Hiberno-Spanish family who boast Spain and Denmark among their former homes.’
      • ‘The pier is lined with excellent cheap restaurants, the fish visible in the sea beneath.’
      • ‘Here you will find fantastic Indian restaurants, the best being the Punjab, friendly cheap pubs and encounter the sub culture.’
      • ‘So I sat by him in this rather depressing scene, as we played poker on the wet, cement floor, in the alley of cheap restaurants and pizza places.’
      • ‘Its restaurants were good and cheap and its pubs overpopulated.’
      • ‘There are high class fine dining restaurants, ethnic restaurants, cheap restaurants and family restaurants.’
      • ‘That pizza restaurant is pretty cheap, and they have good pizza.’
    2. 1.2 Inexpensive because of inferior quality.
      ‘cheap, shoddy goods’
      • ‘Well, the deliberate contamination of food materials with low quality, cheap, non-edible or toxic substances is called food adulteration.’
      • ‘Our guys earned that reputation with decades of cheap and shoddy workmanship even as the top-tier imports were training us to expect much better.’
      • ‘Since it became a region in its own right, Montilla has had to contend with a popular image as an inferior, cheap alternative to sherry.’
      • ‘This restaurant is really, really inexpensive. Not cheap, mind; they just don't charge much.’
      • ‘It's expensive, but worth it to avoid the mistakes that mark out a cheap, amateurish video from a slick corporate one.’
      • ‘Okay, it's cheap, but the quality is so poor that you generally only get a couple of wears from it.’
      • ‘This is clearly an attempt to get money out of people for a cheap service.’
      • ‘It's a cheap restaurant that is degrading to woman.’
      • ‘In addition, cheap, inferior food which floods into this country from abroad undercuts quality home produce and increases the downward pressure on farm gate prices.’
      • ‘Or they propose cheap, inferior roof systems, install them, get paid and disappear when the problems start.’
      • ‘The Russian healthcare system is moving from a model based on cheap, poor quality labour to one with fewer, skilled people supported by modern technology.’
      • ‘I own several scruffy-looking fleece tops that make me feel cheap and shabby whenever I wear them, so I was on the lookout for warm and slinky knitwear to help bring out my inner fabulousness.’
      • ‘That is, that it's providing cheap labor instead of quality, but more expensive labor.’
      • ‘He said the agency had to carefully examine the quality of cheap meat to decide whether it was safe for human consumption.’
      • ‘The area that was hit was one of Baghdad's poorest - consisting of overcrowded apartments, rundown shops and cheap restaurants.’
      • ‘A restaurant in some unknown country, cheap wood-grain paneling on the wall and a sad-faced waitress who spoke only Italian as she delivered the overcooked food to the table.’
      • ‘There was a time when it was easy to spot a fake: misspelled logos, cheap leather and shoddy hardware.’
      • ‘We may well be starting to develop a taste for better coffee, but only 30 per cent of the beans we import are quality arabica, the rest being cheap, inferior robusta.’
      poor-quality, second-rate, third-rate, substandard, low-grade, inferior, common, vulgar, shoddy, trashy, rubbishy, tawdry, tinny, brassy, worthless, meretricious, cheap and nasty, cheapjack, gimcrack, brummagem, pinchbeck
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  • 2Of little worth because achieved in a discreditable way requiring little effort.

    ‘her moment of cheap triumph’
    • ‘Whether it is a genuine case of the Prime Minister being paranoid, or a case of his constantly crying wolf to gain cheap political advantage or sympathy, I leave for others to decide.’
    • ‘‘I am disappointed that they view Bolton's transport plans as nothing more than a cheap political gimmick,’ he said.’
    • ‘It's wildly implausible, it's a cheap and uninvolving way to tell a story, and it shows the film's willingness to betray its characters for the sake of a laugh.’
    • ‘The cheap thrills aren't worth the self-inflicted lobotomy one must perform to enjoy them.’
    • ‘And the Government has lashed out at the Opposition for airing the criticisms, accusing them of trying to score cheap political points.’
    • ‘Finally he did achieve a cheap tabloid immortality, but this CD won't raise his status.’
    • ‘Most of them are using that trick for cheap laughs, while he earned those laughs the hard way.’
    • ‘It hurts, but now I just remind myself that they don't know anything about me, and that I am worth more than their cheap laughs.’
    • ‘Online study does not mean cheap and low quality.’
    • ‘But it sounds so glib and useless and feels so cheap and cop-out just to say ‘I'm going to be a better person from now on.’’
    despicable, contemptible, low, base, immoral, unscrupulous, unprincipled, unsavoury, distasteful, unpleasant, mean, shabby, sordid, vulgar, tawdry, low-minded, dishonourable, discreditable, ignoble, sorry, shameful
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    1. 2.1 Deserving contempt.
      ‘a cheap trick’
      • ‘Luckily for its readers, this newspaper would never fall for such cheap tricks.’
      • ‘He's his own man, doesn't compromise his principles to achieve cheap popularity, but sticks to his guns.’
      • ‘Did the rather cheap quality of the cartoons leave an impression as he read the scripts?’
      • ‘Those in the property management departments of the architects feel they have been blinded by a cheap trick.’
      • ‘Which, if you think about it, is a cheap and irresponsible trick.’
      • ‘It uses cheap narrative tricks to skip ahead to a pivotal moment in the tale.’
      • ‘I've ended up using a cheap trick - I've adopted exam papers as a structure for two of the scenarios, one based on Politics, one on Media Studies.’
      • ‘The singer, who had been floating on a cloud of critical success at a French label, fell down to earth with a bump when critics panned her first solo effort as vulgar and cheap.’
      • ‘And no, a filmmaker doesn't need to resort to cheap tricks and melodrama to tell the story.’
      • ‘There is something strangely mesmerising about a snake-charmer's snake but, at the end of the day, you realise it is just another cheap trick.’
      • ‘It's also worth noting the cheap shot thrown at the State Department's intelligence agency, which actually has a very good track record.’
      • ‘How are we supposed to teach our kids about sportsmanship and fair play if this coach constantly gets away with his cheap tricks and abusive behavior?’
      • ‘She deserves and should expect nothing but ridicule for this newest cheap trick.’
      • ‘The stripper only stayed for the first three tracks (over the course of which she took what little she was wearing off) but it set a tawdry, cheap tone for the rest of the gig.’
      • ‘It's a cheap shot: Send your difficult client off to the shrinks and never see him again.’
      • ‘Or is it simply easier for a struggling paper with sales in freefall to decide that a cheap headline is worth more than any kind of journalistic accuracy?’
      • ‘Since his elevation, he has resorted to cheap populism in an effort to win back disaffected working class voters.’
      • ‘Well, we have to admit that we lied about that - it was a cheap trick to keep you reading.’
      • ‘Even the writers themselves fall victim to the cheap trick.’
      • ‘Why do entertainers indulge in such cheap tricks in the first place?’
      despicable, contemptible, low, base, immoral, unscrupulous, unprincipled, unsavoury, distasteful, unpleasant, mean, shabby, sordid, vulgar, tawdry, low-minded, dishonourable, discreditable, ignoble, sorry, shameful
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    2. 2.2North American informal Miserly.
      ‘she's too cheap to send me a postcard’
      • ‘If they look cheap, in comparison, it can send the wrong message about the candidate.’
      • ‘Have you ever had the misfortune damaging one of your favorite firearms because you were too cheap to purchase a quality gun case?’
      • ‘I've got an etiquette question because I can't decide if I'm being cheap and greedy or thoroughly modern.’
      • ‘The answer is they are greedy and cheap, just like the executives of the supermarket.’
      • ‘Well, I'm so cheap I still ask the prices of things I like.’
      • ‘He is nothing but a cheap penny-pincher who has gone out of his way to alienate himself from Chicago fans.’
      mean, miserly, niggardly, close-fisted, parsimonious, penny-pinching, cheese-paring, ungenerous, penurious, illiberal, close, grasping, greedy, avaricious, acquisitive, scrooge-like
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  • At or for a low price.

    ‘a house that was going cheap because of the war’
    • ‘Gary spotted electric trimmers going cheap and brought them home, so both he and Lewis ended up with really short cuts.’
    • ‘Ah - there's an idea… pork joints going cheap for Christmas anyone?’
    • ‘On the other hand, tech talent is going cheap these days, so there's an argument for stocking up now.’
    • ‘However, at just under €400,000 before tax and transport costs, it could be a while before you see any going cheap.’


  • cheap and cheerful

    • Simple and inexpensive.

      • ‘The beaches were great golden expanses and the resorts themselves cheap and cheerful.’
      • ‘GM crops can increase productivity, improve crop quality and end the reliance on chemical pesticides; they are cheap and cheerful, need little maintenance and protect the crops' gene bank.’
      • ‘If you want cheap and cheerful, you get cheap and cheerful.’
      • ‘Like the roof structure, they are cheap and cheerful, but they are also robust and will need little maintenance.’
      • ‘However, if you decide not to splash out, purchase something cheap and cheerful instead just to get one of the stores famous branded carrier bags.’
      • ‘It seems that everyone involved has forgotten the golden rule for success in promoting any entertainment business - the customer is always right and the customer wants it cheap and cheerful, which a single channel could deliver.’
      • ‘They want something that is cheap and cheerful that does the job.’
      • ‘The food is cheap and cheerful and there is nothing to worry about.’
      • ‘Tonight we are going to a flash restaurant, there are plenty of them here alongside the cheap and cheerful, you can easily spend 30 quid on a main course.’
      • ‘The food is overpriced and pretentious, students want cheap and cheerful.’
      inexpensive, low-priced, low-price, low-cost, economical, economic, competitive, affordable, reasonable, reasonably priced, moderately priced, keenly priced, budget, economy, cheap and cheerful, bargain, cut-rate, cut-price, half-price, sale-price, sale, reduced, on special offer, marked down, discounted, discount, rock-bottom, giveaway
      View synonyms
  • cheap and nasty

    • Of low cost and bad quality.

      ‘the materials can seem a bit cheap and nasty’
      • ‘People should be made to realise that a bike is a serious investment, or they're going to buy something cheap and nasty and not enjoy the cycling experience as much as if they'd spent a bit more.’
      • ‘That doesn't necessarily mean cheap and nasty, though.’
      • ‘Rather than being cheap and nasty and unstable (like everything else at that store), they seem to be actually quite sturdy and rather pleasing on the eye.’
      • ‘They are cheap and nasty, and limit the sound quality enormously.’
      • ‘And people from abroad don't expect things to be cheap and nasty.’
  • (as) cheap as chips

    • informal Very inexpensive.

      ‘the second-hand copies are cheap as chips’
      as modifier ‘cheap-as-chips jewellery’
      • ‘Cheap as chips, each drank champagne and vodka tonics all night.’
      • ‘Although flights from Scotland to London are as cheap as chips these days, we chose to go by train and save the hassle of hanging around airports and arriving an hour away from the city centre.’
      • ‘PCs will soon be as cheap as chips.’
      • ‘Finding the original shoes was extremely tough and they definitely weren't cheap as chips!’
      • ‘There is also much to be said for cheap-as-chips packages that cannot distract anyone with 3-D gaming.’
      • ‘Daytime TV ad slots are cheap as chips.’
      • ‘Some of these companies have become "as cheap as chips", as one fund manager remarked.’
      • ‘We popped in to see how we could get a joint membership and it was as easy as pie and cheap as chips.’
      • ‘Although, as EnGadget notes, most people in those parts might prefer mobile phones, and they're already cheap as chips.’
      • ‘My cheap as chips special edition will now be shipping Monday not last Thursday as MS didn't deliver all the stock.’
  • cheap at the price

    • Well worth having, regardless of the cost.

      ‘as an investment for the future, the books are cheap at the price’
      • ‘Seeing all the things put in, and all the things taken out, it seems cheap at the price.’
      • ‘Not just deeply relevant, but cheap at the price.’
      • ‘If, at last, we begin to see just how counter-productive and wasteful our farming policies have become, the cost of this latest compensation will have been cheap at the price.’
      • ‘Roy Keane, a big admirer, was not alone at the time in remarking that it was cheap at the price.’
      • ‘I would suggest £200 for a ten-year personal licence is hardly excessive - £20 per year seems cheap at the price.’
      • ‘They are convenient, easy to use, simple to enter and exit, and cheap at the price.’
      • ‘The prospect of the red tape involved in applying for new plates persuaded many car owners that this was cheap at the price.’
      • ‘One expert warned that at $60 a barrel oil is looking cheap at the price.’
      • ‘‘Son, look at it as a quick course in practical diplomacy, and cheap at the price,’ said Fox.’
      • ‘Cutting the budget deficit looks cheap at the price.’
  • on the cheap

    • informal At low cost.

      ‘proper care cannot be provided on the cheap’
      • ‘We have dramatically expanded higher education on the cheap.’
      • ‘Major shareholders may be buying back the loans on the cheap.’
      • ‘But he couldn't resist the chance of snapping up Moore on the cheap.’
      • ‘So, it's a case of doing things on the cheap, like hiring a van.’
      • ‘But can I do this on the cheap, or does it cost a lot of money to put this together?’
      • ‘Seven fuel cheats were counting the cost of trying to do their driving on the cheap.’
      • ‘If you do it on the cheap then you reap the consequences.’
      • ‘My generation has become used to living on the cheap - expensive housing, education and cost of living has seen to this.’
      • ‘Horror movies are often done on the cheap and require no big-name stars and even benefit from a lack of production values.’
      • ‘That the key question remains: why, other than a desire to do the job on the cheap, is the gas not to be processed offshore?’


Late 15th century: from an obsolete phrase good cheap ‘a good bargain’, from Old English cēap ‘bargaining, trade’, based on Latin caupo ‘small trader, innkeeper’.