chip off the old block

chip off the old block

Meaning

  • the term is used to describe people who look like their parents.
  • someone who is similar to one’s parents in behavior, character, or personality.
  • someone who has a personality that is strikingly similar to their father or mother’s.

Example Sentences

  1. Like his brother, he is a chip off the old block, very rude in behavior and stout in physique.
  2. Jane’s daddy is a great cook, and she is a chip off the old block.
  3. Stephen is a chip off the old block. He’s a good football player, just like his father.

Origin

Chip off the old block” is an idiom typically used to convey that someone resembles a parent, either in physical resemblance, mannerisms, behavior, or ability.

Whilst there is some doubt around whether he was truly the author of all works attributed to him, it is generally accepted that Theocritus, a Greek poet born in Sicily, wrote the first iteration of this idiom in his tenth Idyll – The Reapers, written around 230BC. 

“Good master early-and-late-wi’-sickle, good Sire chip-o’-the-flint, good Milon, hath it never befallen thee to wish for one that is away?”

It is the phrase’s original format, referring to how a chip of a particular piece of wood or stone is the same as the larger part.  

The idiom reappeared in a new form in British writings beginning around 1627, notably in the anonymously authored Dick of Devonshire and Bishop Rober Sanderson’s Sermons, as “chip of the same block”. Around twenty years later this had evolved into “chip of the old block”, and was generally written in this form until 1897, when it appeared in the Virginia Law Register in the current phrasing:

“He fears to approach his son Taylor on the subject, well knowing that he is a ‘chip off the old block…'”

The version as we know it now was included in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1929, cementing this as the idiom we know it today.

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