***This website is an in-depth investigation of the word cheap. Created as the final research project for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg's History of the English Language Course taught by Dr. Greenfield; this project describes the usage of cheap in the English language. I will be exploring how cheap has developed from the earliest uses of the word into how we use it in the present day. Please see the related GitHub page for project development details.***

The Etymology of Cheap

According to the Oxford Engligh Dictionary Online

The word cheap entered the English language in Old English as the noun ceap and had numerous initial meanings including: "barter, buying and selling, market, price, merchandise, stock, cattle." This word is derived from the Old Germanic word kaupo (hypothetical), which later became West Germanic kaup (hypothetical) and the Old Norse brother word kaup, meaning "bargain, pay, wages." The Old Germanic derivative West Germanic kaup (hypothetical) became the Old High German chouf, the Old English ceap, the Old Frisian kap, and the Old Saxon kop. The Germanic languages of the term have the hypothetical derivative verbs kaupjan and kaupojan, meaning "to barter, buy and sell, etc." There is also the hypothetical West Germanic agent noun derivative kaupo, -on, meaning "trader, merchant." Quoted from the OED, "the coincidence of the stem kaup-, and especially the identity of the West Germanic hypothetical agent noun kaupo, -on 'trader, merchant, dealer', with Latin caupo, -on-em 'petty tradesmen, huckster, tavern keeper', has suggested that the Germanic word and its family are of Latin origin. But there are serious difficulties."

The Old English noun ceap took on copious spelling variations in Middle English including chep, chype, and schep. In the Middle English to the 1500s there was chepe, cheep, and cheepe. In the 1500s chiepe and cheap could also be found. The modern spelling, cheap, came in from Middle English to the 1600s and is the only variation used after the 1600s.

The Spelling Variations of "Cheap"

According to the Oxford Engligh Dictionary Online

Old English

Middle English

Modern English