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Chump change

Posted by ESC on October 26, 2000

In Reply to: Chump change posted by D Debertin on October 25, 2000

: Any ideas on the origins or the exact meaning of "chump change" as
: used to indicate something that involves only a small
: amount of money, or often "not chump change" as something involving a significant amount of money?

: Thanks

: David

CHUMP CHANGE - "Chump," meaning a stupid person, dates back to 1883 and prior to that "meant a thick butt of wood," according to "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982). I am assuming that the term "chump change" takes its meaning from that word. Here are definitions from "Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner" by Geneva Smitherman (Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1994). "Chump change - A small amount of money. Also 'crumbs.' Crumbs - 1. Low-life people. 2. Unimportant people, not necessarily low-life. 3. See chump change." A usual movie scene featuring this phrase has a big-time drug dealer telling the poor-but-honest character holding down an ordinary job that he is just working for chump change.