cheap at the price

beppo

Senior Member
Italian
"Chealsea Clinton's wedding will cost $ 3 million but it is cheap at the price". What's the meaning ? Thanks in advance for the help.
 
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Cheap at the price usually means 'good value for money', Beppo, i.e. "Though they're going to pay a lot of money for the wedding, it will be worth the money spent."

    I wasn't invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding so can't say whether or not the author is being ironic, as they sometimes are.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    "Chealsea Clinton's wedding will cost $ 3 million but it is cheap at the price". What's the meaning ? Thanks in advance for the help.

    The context can be seen here, where the author goes on to say:

    So stop all this nonsense that the wedding is costing too much.

    So the author appears to mean something like "For a celebrity wedding three million dollars is cheap."

    Note that this appears to be a takeoff on "cheap at half the price," which, according to this article, is "A jokey way of saying expensive." However, it also mentions the sense to which ewie referred.
     
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    mplsray

    Senior Member
    If I were Bill Clinton, I wouldn't be pleased at its suggestion that $3 million was a small price to pay for getting Chelsea off my hands.

    I see where you are coming from, but in the given context, the author clearly admires both Bill Clinton and his daughter, and so would not have intended that interpretation.

    Just another example of how context can influence the meaning of a word or expression.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with ewie: I'd say "cheap at half the price" is a (humorous) derivative of "cheap at the price", rather than the other way round....
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    While I agree that "cheap at half the price" is a joke, for me the normal saying is "cheap at twice the price." (Even if it cost twice as much, it would still be a bargain.)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Now that I've stopped laughing at so many things stated in this piece, (none of my thoughts are relevant) I'd like to say that I've never heard this phrase worded quite this way.

    I really did have to read it in context to figure it out for sure.

    I'm familiar with "cheap at that price" but not "the price."

    Even then, I think it's awkwardly worded.

    I'd more readily expect it to be written:
    Chelsea Clinton's wedding will cost $3 million, but even at that price, it's still cheap.
    (meaning: considering whose wedding it is.)

    Also, I think the word cheap as used here is kind of insulting because I think of cheap as tacky and unclassy because they didn't want to spend the money to make it an admirable affair.

    A more understandable phrase in AE would have been a modest amount.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It's interesting: there does seem to be a transatlantic divide here (as ewie's dictionary link indicates)....

    Just by way of background, it seems that Beppo's sentence comes from an Irish publication: click.
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    Here's another take on "cheap at half the price," from the entry "cheap at half the price (, it would be)" in The Shorter Dictionary of Catch Phrases by Rosalind Fergusson (based upon the work of Eric Partridge and Paul Beale):

    It is one of those intensely idiomatic phrases that are taken for granted yet prove impossible to analyse or explain: the accepted interpretation would make more sense if twice were substituted for half. Kingsley Amis wrote in the Observer, 4 September 1977: 'I think it's an ironical inversion of the salesman's claim "cheap at double the price", and means what it says, it would be cheap at half the price, i.e. it's bloody expensive.'

    I had not heard of "cheap at the price," but had heard British speakers say "cheap at half the price," so that was the source of my error.

    For what it's worth, the earliest cite I can find via Google Books for "cheap at the price" (with nothing included afterword such as "cheap at the price it now brings" or "cheap at the Price of a Talent") is in a novel from 1798, Mrs. Halliburtons Troubles. From page 205:

    And cheap at the price," answered Herbert.
     
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