Please consider the sentences below:

He chiseled me out of my dues.
He swindled me out of dues.
He cheated me out of my dues.

Below are the definitions given by Dictionary

Chisel = cheat or swindle (someone) out of something.
Swindle = use deception to deprive (someone) of money or possessions.

I learn that any of the two words in any language doesn't implies same meanings all the time. What is the difference in the meaning if I use above three words individually in the given sentence?

  • There is a significant difference if your wife is the malefactor.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:25

3 Answers 3


Chisel is colloquial, and rather old-fashioned now; its use peaked about 1940 and has been declining since.

Swindle may be used either colloquially or formally, and bears a suggestion of illegality. (But in actual law the term is usually defraud).

Cheat is the most "generic" of the three terms; it is used not only of fraudulently or underhandedly depriving someone of material assets but also in figurative senses: "cheating death", for instance, or "cheating an audience's expectations" (or "cheating an audience of its expectations").

  • Those are exactly the same distinctions I would make. Chief among them being that anyone interested in learning and using current English should probably forget about using chisel in this sense. NGrams supports my gut feeling that swindling [someone out of something] is also falling out of fashion, leaving cheating as probably the best choice today. Dec 23, 2012 at 22:25

In English, many words can be used in a variety of contexts. In this instance, the three words will give the sentence the same meaning.

'swindle' does give a possible interpretation of being fooled or being a bit gullible, but they all have the same meaning.


Two different words would never have the same meaning. In other words, different words convey different concepts. While using words, some considerations such as what, where, when as well as how to whom the vocabulary is used must be taken into account.

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