chip on one's shoulder

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A form of challenge in the same spirit as a medieval knight throwing down his gauntlet.

Etymology:

  • The saying originated during the 19th century in the United States, where people wanting a physical fight would carry a chip of wood on their shoulder, daring others to knock it off. Printed citations of this include the Long Island Telegraph, which on May 20th, 1830, printed:
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Submitted on September 01, 2009

Additional definitions for 'chip on one's shoulder':

chip on one's shoulderA habitually combative attitude, usually because of a harboured grievance, sense of inferiority, or having something to prove.
chip on one's shoulderA tendency to take offence quickly.
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"chip on one's shoulder." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 18 Feb. 2020. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/chip-on-one's-shoulder_2891>.

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