I play an online game with a group of people, one of whom is UK-based. He was going out of town for several days, so he told us to "feel free to do a cheeky quest" without him.

What does the word "cheeky" mean in that context? I tried to look it up, but none of the meanings I found - even on urbandictionary - seemed to fit. My best guess is that it means something like "quick"? How would I express something similar in American English?

  • I would consider the likelihood that he misspelled the word, or otherwise typed something other than what he intended. – Hot Licks Oct 1 '15 at 21:51
  • @HotLicks I wondered this as well, but upon further investigation he confirmed the usage of the word. – Holly Oct 1 '15 at 22:04
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    Traditionally it means 'impudent', but the modern meaning in the UK among the Banter Generation is more 'impromptu' or 'spontaneous', with a hint of the 'unauthorised'. – JHCL Oct 1 '15 at 22:48
  • @JHCL I think that might be more toward what this individual was trying to express with his usage of the word. – Holly Oct 1 '15 at 22:50

In this case I think it's a combination of the traditional meaning of cheeky, meaning amusingly sassy, with the idea of the event being unplanned and not the thing you were meant to be doing, as in a "cheeky pint." Maybe there is also an added layer of speed too, as you suggest.

See this blog post about "cheeky Nando's." https://britishisms.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/cheeky-nandos/

I don't think such an equivalent exists in American English.

  • A generation of British youth has taken up the old term 'banter' to mean a particular kind of knowing, playful, largely meme-based teasing. The 'cheeky Nando's' phenomenon is part of that, and thereby a number of 'cheeky' usages. – JHCL Oct 1 '15 at 22:22

Norman Schur, Eugene Ehrlich & Richard Ehrlich, British English A to Zed, third edition (2007) has this entry for cheeky:

cheeky, adj. Very impudent and disrespectful in speech or behavior.

But impudent in the sense of "cocky boldness" (as Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary puts it) isn't necessarily a simple matter of regrettable rudeness or disrespectfulness, and I can imagine cheeky, in this same sense, implying (as Rick Deckard suggests in another answer) a kind of free-spirited sassiness that is actually charming and even admirable.

So perhaps either sassy or impudent might convey the sense that your British friend had in mind.

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