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.

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    Going by sheer cheek (impertinence, boldness, daring) without being supported by fact/data/relevance in what you do? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 11 '14 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 '14 at 12:24

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....

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  • 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 '14 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'.

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