Cheapskate – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

The word cheapskate is a closed compound word made of the words cheap and skate. But it does not refer to affordable skates. The term describes a person who goes beyond frugal living. Keep reading to learn the complete definition and origin of the noun cheapskate.

What Is a Cheapskate?

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Cheapskate is a noun that refers to a miserly or stingy person. It’s usually someone who tries to avoid paying their share of expenses or costs. This scornful term describes someone with “short arms and long pockets.”

A cheapskate is not only a cheap person or someone who wants to save money and live debt-free. It’s also someone who does not want to spend money even though it’s necessary.

Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol is a clear example of a cheapskate. Despite being wealthy, he underpays his employee and hounds debtors relentlessly. He hates Christmas because he associates it with reckless spending.

For example:

  • She gets labeled a cheapskate even if she only wants to save money for school.
  • Taking home leftovers is cheapskate behavior.
  • Everyone thinks you’re a cheapskate for not wanting to celebrate your anniversary with your partner.

Cheapskate Synonyms

Some synonyms for cheapskate include:

  • Miser
  • Tightwad
  • Skinflint
  • Saver
  • Piker
  • Churl
  • Pack rat
  • Scrooge
  • Penny pincher

Cheapskate Origin

Cheapskate Ngram
Cheapskate usage trend.

The origin of cheapskate is not recorded. But it’s worth noting that skate is a slang word for a mean or contemptible person. It might have originated from skite, a Scottish slang with the same definition.

Then, in the 20th century, skate and cheapskate became synonymous in the USA and UK.

The earliest recorded use of cheapskate can be found in George Ade’s Artie: A Story of the Streets and Town (1896).

“Them sporty boys don’t last. They get in with a lot o’ cheap skates and chase around at nights and think they’re the real thing.”

Examples of Phrases With Cheapskate 

Here are some examples of cheapskate in a sentence.

  • My dad is the biggest cheapskate. He’ll never buy me a Playstation.
  • The people I work with are a bunch of cheapskates; they wouldn’t even chip in on the card. 
  • Don’t be a boring cheapskate! You’re the one who asked me to dinner!
  • Someone there asked when does “frugal” cross the line to “cheapskate”? and folks kept on going with the various methods, tactics, and straight-up rooster moves people can pull just to avoid paying… well, anything, really. (Bored Panda)
  • A woman has detailed her frustration after her boyfriend labeled her a “cheapskate” for refusing to spend her lottery winnings on a list of things he wants, including a house with a swimming pool and a Tesla. (7 News)
  • Critics called her a ‘cheapskate’ and mocked her money-saving strategy, but there were also plenty of fans who hailed her a ‘genius’ for the tip and couldn’t wait to try it out for themselves. (Daily Mail)

Learn More Compound Words

Cheapskate is one of the many compound words that produce a different meaning when combined. It’s a noun that indicates a person who goes to great lengths to avoid spending money.

What other compound words do you want to learn?

Check out some others we covered: