chip on one’s shoulder
Posted: 02 November 2010 05:43 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Do yous have any details on the origin of this phrase?

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Posted: 03 November 2010 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The OED has this first citation which is pretty much self-explanatory:

1830 Long Isl. Tel. (Hempstead, N.Y.) 20 May 3/5 When two churlish boys were determined to fight, a chip would be placed on the shoulder of one, and the other demanded to knock it off at his peril.

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Posted: 03 November 2010 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Nigel Rees (A Word in your Shell-like) says American origin, early 19C; Earliest print mention Long Island Telegraph 1830.
Wiki and several other sites cover

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chip_on_shoulder

Edit: Snap! Must learn to type more quickly - at least two minutes faster!

[ Edited: 03 November 2010 04:24 AM by Skibberoo ]
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Posted: 03 November 2010 05:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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pretty much self-explanatory

Except possibly to note that the chip in question is a wood chip, such as results from cutting wood with an axe or hatchet.

IIRC, there’s a scene in Tom Sawyer where Tom behaves as described in the quotation, putting a chip on his shoulder and daring another boy to knock it off.

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Posted: 03 November 2010 12:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I have wondered for a long time if the British adjective “chippy”, meaning “appearing ready for an argument or fight”, comes from the metaphor of “having a chip on one’s shoulder”. In Britain “chippy” is an adjective applied to the working classes, generally by their self-styled social superiors trying to imply that the “chippy” attitude springs from resentment at not having the “advantages” (and wealth) that come with a higher social position. The OED has one meaning of “chippy” as “cross, irritable”, but includes it as a figurative usage under “given to chipping, liable to chip”. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang gives no origin for the expression, and is surely wrong in saying “chippy” means “impudent”: as Britons will know, the comedian Paul Merton, the subject of its example quotation, specialises in slightly surly almost-aggression, which is exactly what “chippy” means to me. Certainly the author Steven Wells in Punk: young, loud & snotty: the stories behind the songs derives “chippy” from “chip on the shoulder”, and references “a man seeking a fight in a pub” daring anybody to knock the chip off his shoulder, before calling punks ready to fight with upper-middle-class students “chippy”.

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