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And what is the expression's origin?

(I believe it's related to beer)

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Literally it means half a pint, when perhaps you shouldn't be drinking, for example, at lunchtime when you still have an afternoon of work left. Though it may be that if someone says they're 'just going for a cheeky half', they actually mean they are intending to consume rather a lot more than that.

Half a pint

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+1: I googled and got: "To go for a cheeky half is on the face value of it, an indication that your [sic] going to drink half a pint of bitter/stout/ale/lager. However, it actually means that your [sic] going to imbibe much, much more than a half and that there is no particular occasion that led to the session, rather just an impulse to have a few beers. Hence, a cheeky half." – Robusto May 28 '11 at 12:28
Also, anyone who has experienced British pubs will probably have noticed that it's quite rare for a man to drink a half pint. I'd feel obliged to explain my unmanly behaviour thus: "Just a cheeky half for me please, I'm driving." – z7sg Ѫ May 28 '11 at 12:36
Very helpful, thanks :) – shygon May 28 '11 at 14:05
@Robusto, the Collins English Dictionary defines a pint to be "a pint of beer" and also "a drink of beer", which would typically be several pints. From personal knowledge I can say that "a swift half" means the same and, although I've never heard it myself, can imagine that "a cheeky half" would be nearly synonymous. – Brian Hooper May 28 '11 at 18:13

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