Cheap Thrill: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
July 29, 2023

A "cheap thrill" is a minor thing done for entertainment with little value or consequence. It can also refer to something easy to obtain or enjoy but not lasting or worthwhile.

In short:

  • A cheap thrill is a trivial activity that provides amusement but has no lasting or meaningful impact.
  • It can also refer to a small thing that gives pleasure but does not matter or affect anything in the long run.

What Does "Cheap Thrill" Mean?

The meaning of the idiom "cheap thrill" is relatively straightforward. It is a simple thing that makes one happy but has no significance or result.

Where Does "Cheap Thrill" Come From?

The origin of the phrase "cheap thrill" is unclear, but it seems to have emerged in the 20th century, possibly influenced by the slang term "thrill," meaning a strong feeling of excitement or pleasure. The word "cheap" implies that the thrill is low quality, cost, or essential.

Historical Example

"He's having such a good time. He's having such a good time with his cheap thrills."

- 1968 song "Cheap Thrill" by Big Brother and the Holding Company, featuring Janis Joplin.

10 Examples of "Cheap Thrill" in Sentences

Here are some examples of how to use the idiom "cheap thrill" in different sentences:

  • He likes to watch horror movies for a cheap thrill but doesn't care about the plot or the characters.
  • She only dated him because he was a cheap thrill. They might break up anytime soon.
  • Some people enjoy skydiving or bungee jumping for a cheap thrill. They like living life on the edge.
  • He was addicted to gambling and drugs because he sought a cheap thrill to escape his problems.
  • She felt guilty for reading gossip magazines and celebrity blogs. She knew they were just cheap thrills that didn't enrich her life.
  • He bought her flowers and chocolates, but she wasn't impressed. She thought he was trying to get a cheap thrill out of her.
  • She loves traveling and exploring new places. She doesn't want to settle for a cheap thrill at home.
  • He eventually got bored with partying. He wants a new experience than just chasing cheap thrills.
  • She was in awe of the movie. She expected it to be a cheap thrill with no substance or depth, but it wasn't.
  • He was racked with guilt for cheating on his wife. He realized it was a cheap thrill that cost him his marriage and family.

Examples of "Cheap Thrill" in Pop Culture

Here are some examples of the phrase "cheap thrill" in pop culture:

  • In 2016, Australian singer-songwriter Sia released a song called "Cheap Thrills," featuring Jamaican rapper Sean Paul.
  • In 2013, American director E.L. Katz made his feature film debut with "Cheap Thrills," a dark comedy thriller starring Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton, and David Koechner.

Other Ways to Say "Cheap Thrill"

Here are some synonyms or related expressions for "cheap thrill":

  • A quick fix
  • A guilty pleasure
  • A flash in the pan
  • A one-night stand
  • A wild goose chase

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Cheap Thrill"

Here are some common questions and answers about the idiom "cheap thrill":

  • What is the origin of "cheap thrill"?

The origin of the phrase "cheap thrill" is unclear, but it seems to have emerged in the 20th century, possibly influenced by the slang term "thrill," meaning a strong feeling of excitement or pleasure.

  • What is the opposite of a "cheap thrill"?

A possible opposite of a "cheap thrill" is "a meaningful experience," which has a significant value or impact on one's life, happiness, or personal growth.

  • Is "cheap thrill" an insult?

"Cheap thrill" can be used as an insult, depending on the context and tone. It can imply that someone or something is shallow, worthless, or easy to get or please.

  • Is "cheap thrill" consistently negative?

"Cheap thrill" is not always negative. It can also be used neutrally or positively to describe something simple, harmless, or enjoyable without being pretentious or expensive.

  • How do you use "cheap thrill" in a sentence?

You can use "cheap thrill" in a sentence as a noun phrase, usually with an article (a/an/the) or a possessive pronoun (my/your/his/her/our/their).

Example: He also likes to watch horror movies for a "cheap thrill." We're in the same boat.

  • What are some examples of "cheap thrills" in real life?

Pranking someone, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, flirting with strangers, and riding extreme amusement park rides are some examples of "cheap thrills."

  • What are some synonyms for "cheap thrill"?

Some synonyms for "cheap thrill" are: "a quick fix," "a guilty pleasure," "a flash in the pan," "a one-night stand," and "a wild goose chase."

  • What does it mean to be a "cheap thrill" seeker?

To be a "cheap thrill" seeker means constantly looking for or engaging in activities that provide short-term excitement or pleasure but have little value or consequence. A "cheap thrill" seeker may be bored, restless, impulsive, or dissatisfied with their life.

  • What is the difference between a "cheap thrill" and a "guilty pleasure"?

A "cheap thrill" and a guilty pleasure are similar concepts, but they have some differences. A "cheap thrill" is something that is done for entertainment that has little value or consequence. A guilty pleasure is something that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not very good, respectable, or appropriate.

  • How do you avoid "cheap thrills"?

Find more meaningful or satisfying ways to spend your time and money instead. In addition, you can set long-term goals and work toward them.

Final Thoughts About "Cheap Thrill"

"Cheap thrill" is an idiom that refers to a minor thing done for entertainment that has little value or consequence. It can also refer to something easy to obtain or enjoy but not lasting or worthwhile. The idiom "cheap thrill" can be used in various ways.

Critical aspects of the phrase:

  • The idiom "cheap thrill" may have originated from the slang term "thrill," meaning a strong feeling of excitement or pleasure, and the word "cheap" implies low quality, cost, or importance.
  • The idiom "cheap thrill" has been used in many songs, movies, books, and other forms of pop culture.
  • Finally, the idiom "cheap thrill" can be used differently, depending on the context and tone.

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