- (humorous) Quite expensive.
- (from misunderstanding) Satisfactorily cheap.
"Cheap at half the price" is the original and correct version of the saying. In Middle English, cheap, or "cheep" also meant goods or property, so the street cry, "Cheap at half the price!", was the Middle Ages' equivalent of today's shop window sign, "All stock 50% off". Chaucer uses this meaning in, "...greet cheep is holde at litel pris...". That is to say, where there is an abundance, "greet cheep" = great supply of goods, the price is low "..holde at litel price" = is valued at a low price. Possibly the earliest reference to supply and demand! The corruption, "Cheap at twice the price" would have appeared through a misunderstanding of the original meaning of "cheep".