What Does Chip off the Old Block Mean?

Chip Off the Old Block Meaning

Definition: A child who closely resembles, in physical or mental characteristics, a parent.

The idiom chip off the old block refers to someone who resembles one or both parents, either physically or in personality traits. This idiom is most commonly used to refer to men who look or act like their father.

Origin of Chip off the Old Block

The idea behind this idiom – that something bears a resemblance to the larger piece from which it was taken – dates back to 270 BC. The analogy of a piece of stone or wood resembling the larger piece from which it was cut first appeared in Theocritus’ Idyls.

 Define chips of the old blockA slight variation of this idiom, a chip of the same block, was first used in 1621, in Robert Sanderson’s Sermons,

Am I not a child of the same Adam…a chip of the same block, with him?

Another version of the idiom, closer to its modern form, appeared in John Milton’s work,

How well dost thou now appeare to be a Chip of the old block.

The idiom evolved into chip off the old block in the late 19th century. The idiom as it is written in the modern day was first used in 1870.

Examples of Chip off the Old Block

Meaning of chip off the blockThis phrase is most commonly used to refer to men who resemble their fathers, although this is not always the case. This sample conversation illustrates the correct use of this idiom.

Vernon: Did you hear Jude got accepted for a baseball scholarship?

Patrick: I can’t say I’m surprised. Chip off the old block, that kid.

More Examples

  • Steve Belichick is his own man, even if so many see him as a chip off the old block, with the same dry sense of humor and often unenlightening answers to media inquiries. – NY Post
  • Toews called Colton Keith “already a chip off the old block.” – Chicago Tribune

Summary

The English idiom chip off the old block refers to someone who is similar in character or appearance to one or both parents.

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