Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

From Flappers to Rappers: American Youth Slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites the 1930s expression "cheek it" as meaning to bluff. I don't quite understand why and I'm hoping someone on here may help me to better understand this.

share|improve this question
3  
Going by sheer cheek (impertinence, boldness, daring) without being supported by fact/data/relevance in what you do? –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 11 at 11:05
    
You would think the book that purports to be about slang would answer these questions! I say return it for a refund! –  David M Mar 11 at 12:24

2 Answers 2

I tried to ngrams this guy but nothing much came up to be honest -- the only remotely close thing I could find was this

    I may find myself momentarily beset by an irrational impulse; but it does not
 reach my muscles because I cheek it, or my ingrained habits cheek it for me. 
And so again if you wish to train me in automatic writing and ask me to 
let my hand rest ...

The Harvey Lectures, Volume 3 Academic Press, 1909

doesn't really seem to fit the criteria though....

share|improve this answer
    
Certainly doesn’t fit the criteria: it’s clearly an OCR error. Searching for it in Google Books shows several instances of the correct rendering: “it does not reach muscles because I check it”. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 11 at 16:33

In current UK and Irish slang, 'cheek' is to be naughty or mischievous. It can also be trying to get away with something. It is used in relation to children and adults but sort of in a childish way. A child can be 'cheeky' when trying to get away with something. 'They've some cheek', would mean being bold about being disingenuous. That would be used in regard to politicians when they are probably telling lies about past knowledge of said event, for instance.

I would say that this reference stems from this use of the work 'cheek'.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.