What Does Cheapskate Mean?

Cheapskate Meaning

Definition: A frugal or stingy person.

This word has a negative connotation. Sometimes it is separated into two words: cheap and skate.

Origin of Cheapskate

This expression originated around the late-1800s. It is unclear exactly how the expression began.

However, the word cheap means costing little money. When describing a person, it means unwilling to spend much money.

The word skate has other slang meanings such as an old horse or a contemptible person. It is possible that one of these slang meanings helped the idiom to develop.

Examples of Cheapskate

define cheap skatesIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing whether or not to go out to a restaurant for dinner.

Tina: Hey, Keanu, do you want to go grab something to eat?

Keanu: Maybe! Where did you want to go?

Tina: There’s a new restaurant that’s been getting really good reviews. I think we should go!

Keanu: It’s not that five star restaurant is it?

Tina: It is. Why?

Keanu: Well, it’s just so expensive. I don’t want to spend that much money on food. I can cook my own food just fine.

Tina: I don’t understand why you’re such a cheapskate. You have a good job and plenty of money.

Keanu: I have plenty of money because I don’t spend it on unnecessary things.

how to be a cheapskateIn this example, one friend is asking another for a favor.

Jonah: Hey, Tatiana. Do you have a moment to talk?

Tatiana: Sure. What’s wrong?

Jonah: My car broke down, and I don’t have enough in my savings to pay for repairs. I was hoping you could lend me about a thousand dollars. I could pay you back as soon as I get my next paycheck.

Tatiana: I’m sorry, Jonah. I’m just not comfortable lending money to friends. I hope you understand.

Jonah: That is silly. You’re just being a cheapskate!

Tatiana: Hey! You don’t have to be rude.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about good deals that are very cheap.

  • Even though I’m a cheapskate, as you know, I’ve put both my kids in lessons, after watching friends be seriously injured. Learn right, and if you do it in January, you’ll get a deal! –OC Register

The second example is about a town’s Festival of Lights.

  • Even though I usually travel like a cheapskate, this was one annual splurge that was well worth the money. –OC Register


Cheapskate describes a miserly person who hates spending money.