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Chip on your Shoulder

Updated on September 28, 2014

Don't be angry

Are you angry about something in your past? Do you hold a grudge? Is there something that bothers you that you just can't seem to get over? Perhaps you've got a "chip on your shoulder".

The story is that the phrase originated over one hundred years ago and is related to a way to start a duel. The person wishing to fight would put a real wood chip on their shoulder. They would then challenge someone to knock it off as the first move in the fight. I suppose it would be like when 1885 Biff is standing outside of the saloon in Back to the Future III and challenges Marty to a duel. Only in that movie, he probably would have had a cow chip on his shoulder.

The idea for the origin seems to be a bit too literal for me, but the thing with most phrases is they really do come from a literal action, so I suppose it is probably true. Today we tend to use it to describe someone who is resentful about something and feel that they have been treated badly. It is more of a grudge or motivating factor that leads us to action, good or bad.

Have you used the phrase "chip on your shoulder"?

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There's a song?

Be motivated

 The song is an example of using the phrase as a motivator to do something you normally wouldn't do.  It shows how you can take what may be perceived as a negative thing - a "chip on your shoulder" - and using it for good.

Of course, that isn't always the case.  And the below ad shows a bit of the angry side of the phrase.  (Although I don't know that it makes sense)

Chip on YOUR shoulder?

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    • bgamall profile image

      Gary Anderson 

      9 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      I am angry about how George Bush screwed up this country. I write about it and the chip on my shoulder motivates me to write about the jerk.

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