What Exactly Does 'Cheesy' Mean?

Today you’ll learn how to use the word ‘cheesy’ just like a native!

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We use the word ‘cheesy’ in a variety of ways, but the dictionary doesn’t do a good job of showing you that.

Although it seems like a very modern slang term, we’ve actually been using it since the 1890’s. source

The dictionary defines it as ‘cheap, unpleasant and/or inauthentic’.

You can learn more by looking this word up in the Urban Dictionary.

Different ways natives use the word ‘cheesy’:

1. Cheap

Products that are cheaply made, of low quality, could be cheesy, especially souvenirs that are mass produced, like buying an Eiffel Tower key chain in Paris.

2. Unpleasant

You use ‘cheesy’ to mean ‘unpleasant’ only when describing something you don’t like because it is either cheap or inauthentic.

Cheesy’ is definitely not a synonym for ‘unpleasant’.

3. Inauthentic

Songs, TV, movies, or people that are trying too hard to be sentimental, or to affect your feelings in a specific way, are cheesy.

For instance, I think most love songs are cheesy. They always have similar lyrics and don’t convey real emotions.

Also, guys picking up girls in bars can be cheesy, like when they say, "Wow. You’re beautiful. We belong together. When they made the alphabet, they should have put ‘u’ and ‘I’ together.” (Cheesiest pick up line ever!)

4. Cliche

When something is repeated too often, it becomes cliche, and then you can describe it as cheesy.

That also makes it inauthentic, as words and ideas lose their meaning if repeated too often.

For instance, soap operas are cheesy. The plot devices are repeated over and over again, and the performers in them often over-act.

However, ‘cheesy’ can be good in this way as well, indicating positive nostalgia, such as love for a certain kind of entertainment that became a cliche of that era or genre.

For instance, cheesy 80’s movies are still loved by many, though they may be mocked as well, like The Breakfast Club.

Cheesy horror is certainly loved by many. These movies are not that scary, as the plots aren’t clever, but there would be a lot of blood that might look fake.

Pop Culture R&R

My favorite slice of pop culture cheese right now from the 1980’s is Super Mario Bros!

My son just got a Nintendo Switch for Christmas, and I told him Super Mario Bros was the only video game I played as a kid. So, we downloaded it for the Switch, and he loves it!

That won’t teach you English, though! So, instead, I recommend the movie Hackers, as it’s computer-related!

Hackers was made in 1995, and stars Angelina Jolie. It’s cheesy in the way they utilize technology, as it’s super dated, and the style and fashion could not be more 90’s!

Do you like any cheesy movies?

Recommend your favorites in the comments section below!