Chip On Your Shoulder: When to Use the Famous Term “Chip On Your Shoulder”?

One very common phrase you might here in the English language is ‘chip on your shoulder’ or someone has ‘got a chip on their shoulder.’ But what does this strange sounding term mean and how can it be used in conversation? We are going to take a look behind the meaning of this term and where it first came from.

Chip On Your Shoulder

Chip On Your Shoulder Meaning

When you use the term ‘chip on the shoulder’ you are talking about a person who seems to think that they are better than others or that the world owes them something. This could also talk about someone who is holding a grudge against someone and uses this to justify their bad attitude.

Origin of this idiom

The phrase ‘chip on your shoulder’ is originally believed to have come from the 19th century. People would carry a piece of wood (otherwise known as a chip) around the town and dare other people to knock the wood off. The term has then evolved to refer to someone with a bad attitude.

“Chip On Your Shoulder” Examples

Example Sentences

You might use the term ‘chip on your shoulder’ to tell someone that they are behaving in an unacceptable fashion, for example you could say something like

  • ‘Tony, you need to get rid of that chip on your shoulder, you are coming across really rude.’

You might also use it to talk about the bad attitude of another person, you could say something along the lines of

  • ‘I’m not sure what has gotten into Ben but he has had a real chip on his shoulder just lately.’

The statement is being made by a police officer.

  • The suspect has a real chip on his shoulder and keeps being horrible to the officers trying to question him.

This statement is being made by a father to his son.

  • You have gotten a real chip on your shoulder lately, you need to sort yourself out.

Conversation Examples

If you would like to know how to use this phrase in your every day conversations but are unsure how, here are some examples of how it might sound.

Conversation 1:

  • Person 1: “Can I give you some advice?”
  • Person 2: “If you must.”
  • Person 1: “You have got a massive chip on your shoulder and it’s making you seem so arrogant.”

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: “I saw Emily the other day, she was being so obnoxious.”
  • Person 2: “Yeah, shes got such a chip on her shoulder these days.”
  • Person 1: “I think it’s because of her falling out with Ann, she thinks that she is so entitled now.”

Conversation 3:

  • Person 1: “Have you met the new guy yet?”
  • Person 2: “Yes, he was really rude to me when I introduced myself.”
  • Person 1: “You’re not the only person to say that. Martha said he has a chip on his shoulder.”

Conversation 4:

  • Person 1: “Are you feeling any better today?”
  • Person 2: “Do I look any better to you?”
  • Person 1: “There is no need for that, you’ve had a right chip on your shoulder since you became ill.”

Other Ways to Say the Phrase

There are many ways you might refer to someone as having a ‘chip on their shoulder’ using other words.

Here are some examples of how you could say it.

  • Having an attitude problem
  • Having a grievance
  • Feeling entitled
  • Holding grudges
  • Attitude problem
  • Bad attitude

Chip On Your Shoulder Meaning | Picture

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