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cheek by jowl

closeness, proximity


cheek by jowl = vertraulich beisammen, auf Tuchfühlung; dicht beieinander; Seite an Seite



“Third comes the fact that, after more than a year of Covid-19, we’re just not psychologically used to being CHEEK BY JOWL with other people anymore.”

John Walton - CNN ‘Why this will be the hottest airplane seat in 2021' (15 February 2021)

“Poverty and consumerism stand CHEEK BY JOWL in India’s booming economy, which has also resulted in increasing inequalities.”

Reuters News Service

Did you

cheek by jowl
adverb (idiom)

- side by side

- very close together

Merriam-Webster / The Cambridge Dictionary


This term is a very old one, dating back to the 16th century:

“Follow! Nay, I’ll go with thee cheek by jowl”, William Shakespeare 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream'.

“Jowl” refers to the fleshy part of the lower jaw, which is next to the cheek. This idiom derives from the notion of holding someone close or dancing so close together that the cheeks touch.

Another version of the expression can be found in the Irving Berlin song popularised by the 1935 film 'Top Hat', in which Fred Astaire sings:

I’m in heaven
And my heart beats
So that I can hardly speak
And I seem to find
The happiness I seek
When we’re out together
Dancing cheek to cheek"

It’s easy to understand why Irving Berlin decided to write “Dancing cheek to cheek” instead of “Dancing cheek by jowl”.


Britain’s longest-reigning monarch has died. During her 70-year reign, Queen Elizabeth II advised 15 British prime ministers, met 12 American presidents, lent her name to over 600 charitable organisations and owned more than 40 Pembrokeshire Welsh Corgi dogs. Along with her consort, Prince Philip—by her side until his death in 2021—she witnessed the evolution of Britain from a declining imperial power to a multicultural country embracing change. The unique circumstances of the queen’s reign mean that it is unlikely to be repeated. The new monarch, King Charles III, is Britain’s longest-serving heir-apparent and is the oldest new monarch in the country’s history.

Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-chief - The Economist (8 September 2022)


- with or in proximity to another person or people:

abreast, all at once, all together, along, alongside, alongside each other, altogether, arm in arm, as a group, as one, at the same moment, beside each other (one another), by the side of, cheek to cheek, CHEEK BY JOWL, closely, close together, coincidentally, combined, concertedly, concomitantly, concurrently, conjointly, hand and glove, hand in hand, in a body (a group, alignment, alliance, chorus, collaboration, collusion, combination, company with, concert, harmony, one breath, partnership), inseparably, in sync (tandem, unison, unity), jointly, mutually, neck and neck, next to each other, reciprocally, shoulder to shoulder, side-by-side, synchronously, together, unanimously, unitedly, within spitting (sniffing) distance of, with one accord, with one another, with one voice, working together, yardarm to yardarm

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

"Queen Elizabeth II and her beloved husband Philip, CHEEK BY JOWL for 73 years, had an amazing partnership."

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