Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


The cheapness of the hansoms delighted her, and she spent most of her time dashing about in cabs.

However, before you can judge of their dearness or cheapness, you must see them.

He had often heard of the cheapness of life in Ireland; and what a myth it was!

We have now the means of making this with the greatest ease, rapidity, and cheapness.

It was the cheapness of the entertainment that particularly appealed to her.

The cheapness of these wines is, no doubt, largely in their favour.

The other stories were occupied by quiet people, who lived there for cheapness.

As buyers our advantage is in cheapness, or what is the same thing, abundance.

Consequently there are two kinds of dearness and two kinds of cheapness.

I confess that your article on dearness and cheapness has led me to reflect.


"low in price, that may be bought at small cost," c.1500, ultimately from Old English noun ceap "traffic, a purchase," from ceapian (v.) "trade," probably from an early Germanic borrowing from Latin caupo "petty tradesman, huckster" (see chapman).

The sense evolution is from the noun meaning "a barter, a purchase" to "a purchase as rated by the buyer," hence adjectival meaning "inexpensive," the main modern sense, via Middle English phrases such as god chep "favorable bargain" (12c., a translation of French a bon marché).

Sense of "lightly esteemed, common" is from 1590s (cf. similar evolution of Latin vilis). The meaning "low in price" was represented in Old English by undeor, literally "un-dear" (but deop ceap, literally "deep cheap," meant "high price").

The word also was used in Old English for "market" (cf. ceapdæg "market day"), a sense surviving in place names Cheapside, East Cheap, etc. Related: Cheaply. Expression on the cheap is first attested 1888. Cheap shot originally was U.S. football jargon for a head-on tackle; extended sense "unfair hit" in politics, etc. is by 1970. German billig "cheap" is from Middle Low German billik, originally "fair, just," with a sense evolution via billiger preis "fair price," etc.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.