General English

  • noun a person who acts unfairly in order to win
  • verb to act unfairly in order to be successful


  • verb to trick someone so that he or she loses money


  • noun someone who breaks rules or uses trickery to gain an unfair advantage
  • verb to break the rules of a game in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage

Origin & History of “cheat”

Cheat is a reduced form of escheat, a legal term for the reversion of property to the state on the death of the owner without heirs. this came from Old French escheoite, a derivative of the past participle of the verb escheoir ‘befall by chance, happen, devolve’, from vulgar Latin *excadēre ‘fall away’, a compound verb formed from the prefix ex- ‘out’ and Latin cadere ‘fall’ (source of a wide range of English words from case ‘circumstance’ to occasion). The semantic steps leading to the modern English sense of cheat seem to be ‘confiscate’; ‘deprive of something dishonestly’; ‘deceive’.