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The meaning and origin of the expression: Chop and change

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Chop and change

Meaning

To change and change again.

Origin

Chop is a now archaic word which has been used for centuries to mean 'change suddenly' (see chop-chop).

The first printed example of 'chop and change' that we have is from the 1485 Digby Mysteries:

"I choppe and chaunge with symonye, and take large yiftes."

Robert Greene's The Blacke Bookes Messenger - The Life and death of Ned Browne, a notable Cutpurse and Conny-catcher [thief and cheat], 1592, makes the meaning explicit:

...in casting mine eye on a pretty wench, a mans wife well knowne about London, I fell in loue with her ... whereuppon her husband, a kind Knaue, and one euerie way as base a companion as my selfe, agreed to me, and we bet a bargaine, that I should haue his Wife, and he should haue mine ... so wee like two good Horse-corsers, made a choppe and change.