Word of the Day: cheek

cheek (noun) /ʧiːk/ LISTEN

A woman pinching her cheeks

The cheeks are the sides of the face below the eyes and above the jaws, and they are also the inner sides of the mouth. Informally, a cheek is either side of the buttocks. A cheek is also either one of two sides of something that resembles the sides of a human face in some way. Cheek also means ‘impudence or rude behaviour.’

Example Sentences

  • The woman was applying makeup to her cheeks.
  • Robert complained of his aching cheeks after riding his bike to work for a week; I guess he needs to get a better bike seat!
  • The carpenter put the piece of wood between the cheeks of the vise.
  • He said you were fat? What cheek!

Words often used with cheek

have the cheek: have the audacity. Example: “I can’t believe you had the cheek to tell the boss how awful his shirt is!”

Multi-word forms

tongue in cheek: ironically or playfully. Example: “Karen’s comment was tongue in cheek and wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.”

cheek by jowl: close together. Example: “The two men were sitting cheek by jowl.” Also used figuratively. Example: “You often find poverty and crime cheek by jowl.”

turn the other cheek: not react or retaliate. Example: “If someone says something mean to you, you should just turn the other cheek.”

cheek to cheek: normally said about couples dancing or sitting very closely, so their cheeks are touching or almost touching. Example: “The dance floor was filled with young couples all dancing cheek to cheek.”

Did you know?

The related adjective cheeky means ‘impudent’ or ‘naughty.’ It is quite often used when speaking about or to children. You might, for example, tell your children not to be cheeky to their teachers. If a child answers back, that would normally be considered cheeky. In UK English, cheeky is also used to describe something a little bit naughty––something you shouldn’t really do, for example. So you could say, “It was a quiet day at work and no one else was in the office, so I took the opportunity to have a cheeky nap.”


Cheek dates back to before 900; it comes from the Middle English word cheke and the Old English word cē(a)ce; it is akin to the Dutch word kaak and the Middle Low German word kake.

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