AskDefine | Define cheap

Dictionary Definition

cheap adj
1 relatively low in price or charging low prices; "it would have been cheap at twice the price"; "inexpensive family restaurants" [syn: inexpensive] [ant: expensive]
2 tastelessly showy; "a flash car"; "a flashy ring"; "garish colors"; "a gaudy costume"; "loud sport shirts"; "a meretricious yet stylish book"; "tawdry ornaments" [syn: brassy, flash, flashy, garish, gaudy, gimcrack, loud, meretricious, tacky, tatty, tawdry, trashy]
3 of very poor quality [syn: bum, cheesy, chintzy, crummy, punk, sleazy, tinny]
4 embarrassingly stingy [syn: chinchy, chintzy]

User Contributed Dictionary



From cēap. Originally a loan from Latin caupo, whence also Old High German kouf (see German Kauf) and Finnish kauppa.


  • , /tʃiːp/, /tSi:p/
  • Rhymes with: -iːp



  1. Low in price.
  2. Of poor quality.
  3. Of little worth.
  4. unfairly powerful.


low in price
  • Bosnian: jeftin
  • Chinese: 便宜的, 便宜的 (pián yí de)
  • Croatian: jeftin
  • Czech: levný
  • Danish: billig
  • Finnish: halpa
  • French: bon marché
  • German: billig, preiswert, preisgünstig
  • Hungarian: olcsó
  • Italian: economico, economica
  • Kurdish: هه‌رزان
  • Lao: ຖືກ
  • Persian: ارزان
  • Polish: tani
  • Portuguese: barato
  • Russian: дешёвый (dešóvyj), недорогой (n'edorogój)
  • Serbian: јефтин, jeftin
  • Slovene: poceni
  • Spanish: barato
  • Vietnamese: rẻ
of poor quality
  • Bosnian: jeftin, nekvalitetan
  • Chinese: 低級的, 低级的 (dī jí de)
  • Croatian: jeftin, nekvalitetan
  • Danish: tarvelig
  • Finnish: kehno, huono
  • Hungarian: olcsó
  • Italian: scadente
  • Kurdish:
  • Polish: tandetny
  • Russian: низкопробный (nizkopróbnyj)
  • Serbian: јефтин, jeftin, неквалитетан, nekvalitetan
  • Slovene: cenen , cenena , ceneno
  • Spanish: barato
of little worth
  • Bosnian: jeftin
  • Chinese: 價廉的, 价廉的 (jià lián de)
  • Croatian: jeftin
  • Danish: billig
  • Finnish: vähäarvoinen, halpa
  • Hungarian: olcsó, értéktelen
  • Italian: scadente
  • Kurdish: بێقیمه‌ت
  • Polish: tandetny
  • Russian: дешёвый
  • Serbian: јефтин, jeftin
  • Slovene: cenen , cenena , ceneno
slang unfairly powerful

Extensive Definition

No-frills or no frills is the term used to describe any service or product for which the non-essential features (called frills) have been removed. An example is free drinks on airline journeys. Common products and services for which no-frills brands exist include airlines, supermarkets, vacations and automobiles. They operate on the principle that if you take away the frills, you get lower prices.

No-frills supermarkets

No-frills supermarkets are recognisable by their store design and business model.
  • They do not decorate aisles or even fill shelves. Instead, pallets of the products on offer are simply parked alongside the aisles, and customers picking up products will gradually empty them. When all items on a pallet have been sold, they are replaced. Prices are given on plain labels.
  • Queueing at the checkout is relatively common, as staffing levels reflect average demand rather than peak demand. At actual peak times, customers often have to wait.
  • Shopping bags are charged for, as they are seen as a frill. Thus many shoppers put their shopping in the old cardboard boxes that the products came in, put it directly in their trolleys, re use old bags, or buy shopping bags at a low fee e.g. 3p/5c. Some low cost stores (such as Kwik Save in the United Kingdom) have abandoned this policy due to complaints from customers.
  • They work on the principle that in most supermarkets, 20% of products on sale account for 80% of what people buy. Therefore, they only stock the most commonly sold products.
  • They only take cash and debit cards (although this has changed in many stores over the years due to the high usage of credit cards).
  • They only open at peak times i.e. 9 am to 6 pm Monday to Saturday. Although a few stores are 24hrs.
  • They often do not serve branded items. Instead, they sell generic or private label products.
  • The shopping carts have a coin-operated slot, to ensure that the trolleys are kept on site.
  • They usually lack butcher, bakery and deli counters.
  • Staff (or even the managers) sometimes do the cleaning.
Examples of no-frills supermarkets are:

No frills airlines

No-frills airlines are airlines that offer low fares but eliminate all unnecessary services.

No-frills holiday

No-frills holidays (vacations in American English) are holidays which, like no-frills airlines, do not include unnecessary services such as: Such holidays usually have a simple fare scheme, in which fares typically increase during peak seasons, and also as more people sign up for the holiday. This rewards early reservations, and is known as "yield management".
Examples of no-frills holiday companies are:
  • Just, part of the Thomson/TUI group.

No-frills automobiles

In the United States, a no-frills automobile model typically has a minimum of convenience equipment, a less powerful engine and spartan trim.
Frequently, these models represent the lowest-priced version of a larger selection of more lavishly equipped and trimmed models of that same car. Often, the less-expensive models are sold with a manual transmission and have a shorter options list.
One of the more famous no-frills cars was the Studebaker Scotsman, which was on sale from 1957 to 1958. These cars came with a low-grade cloth-trimmed front seat and contained only a driver's side sunvisor, no door armrests and painted trim (in lieu of chrome trim); even routine convenience items, such as a cigarette lighter and dome light were deleted. Buyers were allowed to buy only a low-cost heater and a few other trim and convenience items from a short options list; a radio was not offered as an option on this model (unlike Studebaker's more expensive models).
Other examples of American no-frills cars include the Chevrolet Biscayne, Ford Custom 500, and Plymouth Fury I.
During the gasoline crisis of the 1970s, many American automakers began offering no-frills models on their compact lines of cars (such as the Ford Pinto MPG, and Plymouth Duster "Feather Duster"). As before, these models usually had spartan trim (vinyl seats with rubber floor covering); fewer convenience items than the more expensive models (i.e. no cigarette lighter); lighter-weight components (such as aluminum on various engine, body and suspension components); and a manual transmission.
Most no-frills cars are sold to fleet buyers (such as taxi companies or police departments), although anyone can buy one if price, fuel economy, and basic low-cost transportation are the primary objectives.
The concept of a no-frills car in the European market was common in the fifties with cars such as the Ford Abeille or the Citroën ID Normale. It has only just been beginning again with the Dacia Logan and the Volkswagen Fox.
In Argentina, Brazil, and other members of the Mercosur bloc, almost every locally-built car sold fits in the no-frills category, with the exception of bigger sedans of the less popular badges and most imported vehicles. Costs cuts are listed, but not limited to:
  • Very little soundproofing or no soundproofing at all
  • Low quality plastics
  • Substitution of rubber on the dashboard to cheaper (rough) plastic
  • Cheaper seatbelt retraction mechanisms, string based instead of acceleration based.
  • No seatbelt height adjustment
  • No ABS
  • No airbags
  • No seat height adjustment
  • No adjustments on the driver wheel
  • Cheaper paint processes
  • Overly facelifted models instead of true new models (Volkswagen Santana, Fiat Palio, Fiat Uno, Volkswagen Gol, Volkswagen Golf, Chevrolet Corsa)
  • Cast iron cylinder heads
  • Cast iron engine blocks
  • Elimination of the lambda sensor
  • Retrofitting old generation components (older, less efficient engines, dashboard components) on a European designed vehicle (Ford Fiesta, FIAT Idea, FIAT Punto).
  • No lamps on the lateral direction lights or remotion of the lateral direction lights at all
  • Plastic Bumper covers made of a single piece. Any grills are designed by placing indentations on the plastic
  • Low-quality springs on the suspension, compensated by a taller and harder adjustment
  • Less maintenance on the tools used to build the vehicles
  • Elimination of the side-mirror heaters
  • Smaller and more restrictive catalytic converters
While cost cuts are clearly visible in nearly any Mercosur car, the most aggressive form of no-frills cars available are the supermini and city cars sold at the Mercosur markets, notably the Chevrolet Celta, Chevrolet Corsa, Fiat Uno, Fiat Palio, Ford Ka, FordFiesta, Ford EcoSport, Volkswagen Gol and Volkswagen Fox. Those cars tend to be noisy and feature cost cuttings like:
  • No lock on the fuel cap
  • Elimination of nearly all process to polish or finish the molded plastic parts
  • Substitution of black plastics by gray ones (cheaper), even on unpainted bumpers
  • 1.0 L engine
  • Ultra-short gearbox, with the 5th gear scaled as the 4th gear of a 1.3 vehicle.
  • Cheaper mufflers
  • 145/70 R13 tires
  • Thinner wheel
  • Dashboard composed of only speed, fuel gauge and a red lamp to indicate engine overheating
  • Clock removal
  • Cigar lighter removal
  • 2-point seatbelts for the rear passengers or non-retractable 3 point seatbelts
  • Fixed rear windows
  • Elimination of the Anti-roll bar
  • Thinner disk brakes
  • Very thin and low quality trunk carpet
  • Elimination of the side carpets inside of the trunk and any other trunk carpet
  • Elimination of the cigarette lighter
  • Elimination of many plastic pieces inside the car, including the covers of the front seat's rails
  • Elimination of the rear window wiper
  • Elimination of the rear window defogger
  • Only two-speeds for the internal fan
  • Cheaper, noisier internal fan
  • Cheaper, imprecise mechanisms for setting the internal ventilation direction

Other no-frills companies

Other examples of no-frills companies include cinemas (easyCinema), bus companies (easyBus, Megabus), food ranges (Tesco Value, Wal-mart/Asda SmartPrice), mobile phone companies (easyMobile, Telmore) and hotels ( Stayorange, easyHotel, citizenM, Hotel Formule 1, Holiday Inn, Motel 6,Tune Hotels).
cheap in French: Low cost
cheap in German: No frills
cheap in Dutch: No frills-concept
cheap in Portuguese: Baixo custo

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Mickey Mouse, NG, at cost, avaricious, bad, base, beggarly, beneath contempt, beneath one, brummagem, budget, cheapjack, cheaply, cheesy, chintzy, close, closefisted, coarse, common, contemptible, crummy, debasing, degrading, demeaning, deplorable, despicable, disgraceful, easily, easy, economic, economical, economy, fake, flashy, for a song, fourth-class, frugal, garish, gaudy, gimcracky, good-for-naught, good-for-nothing, gutter, hardfisted, humiliating, humiliative, illiberal, inexpensive, inexpensively, inferior, infra dig, infra indignitatem, irregular, junk, junky, lousy, low, low-class, low-grade, low-priced, low-quality, low-test, manageable, mean, measly, meretricious, miserable, miserly, moderate, modest, near, niggardly, no-account, no-good, nominal, not worth having, not worth mentioning, not worthwhile, nugacious, nugatory, on the cheap, opprobrious, ornery, outrageous, paltry, pathetic, penny-pinching, penurious, petty, phony, pinchfisted, pinching, pitiable, pitiful, poor, popular, punk, reasonable, reasonably, reduced, rotten, rubbishy, sad, save-all, scandalous, scrubby, scruffy, scummy, scurvy, scuzzy, second-best, second-class, second-rate, seedy, sensible, shabby, sham, shameful, shocking, shoddy, sleazy, sorry, stingy, tacky, tatty, tawdry, terrible, third-class, third-rate, tight, tight-fisted, tightfisted, tinny, token, too bad, trashy, trifling, trivial, trumpery, two-bit, two-for-a-cent, two-for-a-penny, twopenny, twopenny-halfpenny, unbecoming, unexpensive, ungenerous, unworthy of one, valueless, vile, within means, worth the money, worthless, wretched, wrong
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