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27 Apr. “A chip off the old block.” What is the meaning of this English proverb?

This expression is slightly old-fashioned and out-dated although it is still used in both written and spoken English. Find out more below!


This expression is used in order to express the idea that someone is similar to their parents. It suggests that they have many of the same qualities or characteristics as their parents.


The expression has evolved over time with different wordings throughout the course of history. The first related expression dates to the year 1621 and used the wording “a chip of the same block.” This can be found in Robert Sanderson’s Sermons which reads “am not I a child of the same Adam … a chip of the same block, with him?”

The expression changed shortly after this to become “a chip of the old block.” An example of which can be found in John Milton’s An apology against and reads “how well dost thou now appear to be a Chip of the old block.”

The expression remained in this form until the late 19th century before morphing into the current expression “a chip off the old block.” The first example of this modern phrase dates to the year 1870 in the newspaper The Athens Messenger which reads “the children see their parents’ double-dealings, see their want of integrity, and learn them to cheat … The child is too often a chip off the old block.”


An example of the usage of this expression can be found in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind which reads “If you are different, you are isolated, not only from people of your own age but from those of your parents’ generation and from your children’s generation too. They’ll never understand you and they’ll be shocked no matter what you do. But your grandparents would probably be proud of you and say: ‘Theres a chip off the old block,’ and your grandchildren will sigh enviously and say: ‘What an old rip Grandma must have been!’ and they’ll try to be like you.”

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