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Cheap skate

Posted by Gary Martin on June 13, 2007

In Reply to: Cheap skate posted by Edward Altizer on June 13, 2007

: Reviewing 'cheapskate', consider that the earliest use, and still current (this is the way I learned it) was 'cheapsgate', 'gate' from the gate into the medieval city where the 'cheaps' or merchants were. In some google searches I find people calling each other, or themselves, cheapsgates, and only a few months ago there was a computer application "Cheapsgate". I don't see it now.

: I'm puzzled that the early explanation has nearly disappeared, and so rapidly.

Not wishing to be rude but that 'cheapsgate' derivation is ye loade of olde rubbysh. Why do I think that?

- The term isn't known in print until 1896 - hardly likely if it originated in mediaeval times.
- All the early citations are American. The US has many claims to fame but a history of merchants plying their wares around ancient gated cities isn't one of them.
- All the early citations show the term as 'cheap skate'. The only way that could migrate to 'cheaps gate' is by mishearing. Where is the connection between gate and skate?
- 'Skate' was an existing term for a mean person and for a decrepit horse. The first known citation refers directly to horses.
- Finding an example of a spelling in Google isn't surprising. There are ten times as many examples of 'cheapkate' as for 'cheapsgate' and those are clearly just mistakes.