Your sister is telling a story about your father at a family party. In the story, she politely says that your father was "frugal" when you were children (meaning that he always saved his money). You want to tease your father a little more, so you say:
Frugal? Cheap is more like it!
A "frugal" person tries not to waste money. They do things like:
- eating at home instead of going out to a restaurant
- buying used clothes instead of new ones
- driving an old car
Being "frugal" is a good quality.
A "cheap" person is someone who doesn't want to spend money. "Cheap" people do things like:
- not turning on the heater when it's cold
- not buying gifts for people
- not going on vacations, even though they have enough money
Being "cheap" is bad, so calling someone "cheap" is an insult.
Use this phrase in the following situation:
- Someone uses a word to describe something. (For example, "Our father is pretty frugal.")
- You disagree with that description.
- You want to replace that word with something else.
A: His art is... interesting.
B: Ha! Ridiculous is more like it!
People usually use this expression to replace a positive word with a negative one. But you can also use it in the opposite way:
He said it was "nice", but "amazing" is more like it, if you ask me.
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