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

  • n. The backbone or spine, especially of an animal.
  • n. A cut of meat containing part of the backbone.
  • n. A ridge or crest.
  • n. Nautical The line of intersection between the side and bottom of a flatbottom or V-bottom boat.
  • transitive v. To cut (a carcass, for example) through the spine, as when butchering.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The top of a ridge.
  • n. The spine of an animal.
  • n. a sharp angle in the cross section of a hull
  • v. To cut through the backbone of; to cut into chine pieces.
  • v. To chamfer the ends of a stave and form the chine.
  • n. a steep-sided ravine leading from the top of a cliff down to the sea

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A chink or cleft; a narrow and deep ravine.
  • n. The backbone or spine of an animal; the back.
  • n. A piece of the backbone of an animal, with the adjoining parts, cut for cooking. [See Illust. of Beef.]
  • n. The edge or rim of a cask, etc., formed by the projecting ends of the staves; the chamfered end of a stave.
  • transitive v. To cut through the backbone of; to cut into chine pieces.
  • transitive v. Too chamfer the ends of a stave and form the chine..

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To split open; crack; chink; chap.
  • To split; crack; burst; lay open.
  • To cut through the backbone or into chine-pieces.
  • Literally, colored in Chinese fashion: applied to fabrics in which the warp is dyed in different colors, so that a mottled effect is produced, or in which a double thread, formed of two smaller threads of different colors twisted together, is used to produce a similar mottled or speckled appearance.
  • n. A crack; chink; rift; cleft; crevice; fissure.
  • n. A ravine or large fissure in a cliff: a term especially common in the Isle of Wight and Hampshire, England: as, Black-gang chine.
  • n. The backbone or spine: now commonly used only of an animal.
  • n. A piece of the backbone of an animal, with the adjoining parts, cut for cooking.
  • n. Figuratively, a ridge of land.
  • n. An erroneous form for chime (of a cask).
  • n. A part of a ship. See chime, 2.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. backbone of an animal
  • n. cut of meat or fish including at least part of the backbone
  • v. cut through the backbone of an animal


Middle English, from Old French eschine, of Germanic origin; see skei- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English chyne, from Middle French eschine. (Wiktionary)
Middle English chin ("crack, fissure, chasm"), from Old English cine, cinu (Wiktionary)



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  • I have only ever seen this word in a modern cookbook featuring medieval recipes, that says "Ask your butcher to chine the joint." "WTF," I thought—first off it's assuming I even have a butcher—and didn't do anything of the kind.

    Recipes are more like guidelines anyway.

    November 9, 2010

  • I'd be fascinated to see what that's translated from.

    November 7, 2010

  • Pause for laughter.
    Q. What's the difference between an asthmatic pork-butcher and a party given by intellectuals?
    A. One's all chine and wheeze, and the other's all wine and cheese.

    Witch Grass by Raymond Queneau, translated by Barbara Wright, p 174 of the NYRB paperback

    November 7, 2010

  • Also a valley-like geological formation

    June 17, 2008

  • The intersection of the middle and sides of a boat.

    February 15, 2008