chip on your shoulder

where does this phrase come from?
15:29 Tue 05th Dec 2006
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The Phrase Finder reports thus: This is reported as originating with the nineteenth century U.S. practise of spoiling for a fight by carrying a chip of wood on one's shoulder, daring others to knock it off. This has more than the whiff of folk-etymology about it, but in fact it is the actual derivation of this phrase. The two earliest printed citations that refer to chips on shoulders bear this out.

Firstly, in 1830 the New York newspaper 'The Long Island Telegraph' printed this:

"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."

The actual phrase 'chip on his shoulder' appears a little later, in the ' Weekly Oregonian' 1855:

"Leland, in his last issue, struts out with a chip on his shoulder, and dares Bush to knock it off."
Lenny Henry

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Related Questions

where does 'chip on your shoulder' come from and what is it's literal meaning?
what does it mean when someone says that someone has a chip on their shoulder?
I accidentally dropped a chip on moody daughter's shoulder while having dinner. Looking at her I said, " You've got a chip on your shoulder" She got angry and all defensive saying it must be my fault....
Do you realy have to be like this. Have you really got so much a chip on your shoulder. Well the debate is open so I welcome input.
So just why is this big chip on your shoulder then it must be awfully unbalancing for you.

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