This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Thing Not To Be Today: a cheapskate.

It’s never nice to be called a cheapskate. Especially if it’s true.

But is it true? Are you careful, or are you mean? 

Or, to look at it the other way, are you generous, or are you profligate?

Do you serve drinks in thimbles?

Do you always cut the shrink wrap just slightly too small?

Do you buy the extra-cheap bread that's so full of holes you have to eat three times as much of it?

Are you, in short, prepared to embrace some degree of suffering - or inflict it on others - because the inconvenience is outweighed by the pleasure of saving insignificant amounts of money?


Oh you cheapskate!

Thing Not To Be Today: a cheapskate. Cheap comes from the Old English ceop, bargain or price, and is ultimately to do with the Latin caupo, innkeeper. Where skate came from less clear, but the best guess is that it's to do with the old Scots insult skate (the Scots are brilliant at insults) which still has an echo in the word blatherskite or blatherskate, who is a person who talks on and on without saying anything much to any purpose. 

The song Maggie Lauder uses it:

(blatherskate comes near the end of the first verse. Good tune, too, eh?)

 and this may be how the word skate in this sense got to America, where cheapskate seems to have been coined.

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