cheese·​par·​ing ˈchēz-ˌper-iŋ How to pronounce cheeseparing (audio)
: something worthless or insignificant
: miserly economizing
cheeseparing adjective

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Those familiar with William Shakespeare's history play Henry IV may recall how the portly Falstaff remembered the thin Justice Shallow "like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring." Falstaff's unusual food simile is one not easily forgotten, and people began to associate cheese-parings (bits of cheese trimmed off a larger portion) with other things of little significance and value. In the 19th century, the meaning of cheeseparing was extended to "miserly economizing." (Presumably, the practice of paring off the rind so as to waste the minimum of cheese was viewed as an excessive form of frugality.)

Examples of cheeseparing in a Sentence

Ebenezer Scrooge is portrayed as a taskmaster so dedicated to cheeseparing that he would prefer that his employees freeze to death rather than splurge on heat.
Recent Examples on the Web There are numerous manifestations of this cheeseparing habit. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 28 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cheeseparing.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1800, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cheeseparing was in 1800


Dictionary Entries Near cheeseparing

Cite this Entry

“Cheeseparing.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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