from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The official stamp or seal of a government, company, or individual, especially in China.
  • noun Quality; class.
  • intransitive verb To cut by striking with a heavy sharp tool, such as an ax.
  • intransitive verb To shape or form by chopping.
  • intransitive verb To cut into small pieces.
  • intransitive verb To reduce abruptly or by a large amount.
  • intransitive verb Sports To hit or swing at (a pitched ball) with a short downward stroke.
  • intransitive verb To make heavy, cutting strokes.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To move roughly or suddenly.
  • noun The act of chopping.
  • noun A swift, short, cutting blow or stroke.
  • noun Sports A short downward stroke.
  • noun A piece that has been chopped off, especially a cut of meat, usually taken from the rib, shoulder, or loin and containing a bone.
  • noun A short irregular motion of waves.
  • noun An area of choppy water, as on an ocean.
  • intransitive verb To change direction suddenly, as a ship in the wind.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cut with a quick blow of a sharp instrument, as an ax; sever with a sudden stroke, or a succession of such strokes; cut in pieces by repeated strokes; fell; hew; hack; mince: as, to chop off a limb; to chop down a tree; to chop wood or straw; to chop meat.
  • To snap up; gobble.
  • To flog.
  • To put in.
  • To cause to cleave, split, crack, or open longitudinally, as the surface of the earth, or the skin and flesh of the hand or face: in this sense more commonly written chap. See chap, verb, I., 1.
  • To use a cutting instrument, as a cleaver or an ax, with a heavy stroke: as, to spend the day in chopping.
  • To strike (at); catch (at); do something with a sudden, unexpected motion, like that of a blow.
  • To cut in; come in suddenly in interruption.
  • To utter words suddenly; interrupt by remarking: with in or out: as, he chopped in with a question. See phrases below.—
  • To crack; open in long slits: in this sense more commonly written chap. See chap, verb, II., 1.
  • noun A cutting or severing blow; a stroke, especially with some sharp instrument.
  • noun A slice of mutton, lamb, or pork, usually cut from the loin, and containing the rib.
  • noun Figuratively, an extortion; a forced payment.
  • noun In milling, the product of the first crushing or breaking of the wheat in making flour by the modern processes.— 5. A crack, cleft, or chink: in this sense more commonly written chap. See chap, n., 1.
  • noun A jaw: usually in the plural, the jaws; the entrance to a harbor. See chap.
  • noun In India, China, etc.: An official mark on weights and measures to show their accuracy. A custom-house stamp or seal on goods that have been passed; a permit or clearance.
  • noun In China, brand; quality: as, silk or tea of the first chop. Hence the colloquial phrase first chop, first rate.—
  • noun A lot of tea to which a common mark or brand is affixed; a brand of tea. A chop may contain a few chests or a large number.
  • In tennis, base-ball, and other games, to strike (the ball) with a short, sharp, glancing stroke.
  • In cricket, to strike down hard, with a horizontal bat, a low ball on the off-side.
  • To cut into short pieces, as straw or silage material; to chaff: sometimes with up.
  • To dig, or dig out, by a downward stroke of the hoe, as opposed to a horizontal movement: often with out.
  • noun Material which has been chopped or chaffed. See corn chop.
  • noun In cricket, a stroke in which the bat, held horizontally, is brought, down hard upon a low ball on the off-side.
  • noun An authenticated or authenticating writing or inscription.
  • To barter; truck.—
  • To exchange; substitute, as one thing for another; swap.
  • To bargain; chaffer; higgle.
  • To bandy words; dispute.
  • To turn, vary, change, or shift suddenly: as, the wind chopped or chopped about.
  • noun A turn of fortune; change; vicissitude. Also chap.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Hindi chāp, seal.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English choppen, probably variant of chappen, to split; see chap.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Obsolete, to exchange, from Middle English choppen, to barter, bargain, variant of chapen, from Old English cēapian, from cēap, bargain, trade; see cheap.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Of uncertain origin, perhaps a variant of chap.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Hindi छाप (ćhāp, "stamp")

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English choppen, variant of chappen ("to chop"). Akin to Dutch kappen ("to chop, cut, hew"), Middle Low German koppen ("to cut off, lop, poll"), Danish kappe ("to cut, lop off, poll"), Swedish kapa ("to cut"), Albanian copë ("piece, chunk"), Old English *cippian (only attested in compounds). More at chip.


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  • Not very good at something.

    September 17, 2008

  • A new idiom to me: 'shows off its nominal modifier chops'. According to the OED, the general meaning "skill" is a widening of "jazz trumpeter's skill" from "embouchure (in jazz)" from chops "jaws".

    March 23, 2009

  • A number of different words:

    (1) "cut", thus the cut of meat, and 'get the chop' = "be axed, scrapped, killed", and choppy waves.

    (2) variant of 'chap' = "jaw", usually in plural chaps, chops, thus chapfallen, and the new "skill" sense I noted below.

    (3) "trade, barter" (related to 'cheap', 'chapman', German kaufen "buy", and town names in Chipping), occurring nowadays only in the phrases 'chop and change' and 'chop logic' ("bandy words" but now usually understood as word (1), as if "make fine distinctions")

    (4) from a Hindi word for "impression, stamp", giving commercial senses in India and China such as "seal; licence; trade mark", then colloquially "quality", as in 'not much chop' = "not very good"

    March 23, 2009