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Chinaman's Chance

Posted by TheFallen on February 12, 2003

In Reply to: Chinaman's Chance posted by ESC on February 12, 2003

: : : : Hello, I was just hoping some one might know the origin and meaning of the phrase "China-man's chance". Thanks in advance for any assistance.

: : : CHINAMAN'S CHANCE - ".an extremely slim chance or no chance." The first citation is for 1911. An entry before this one is "play (someone) for a Chinaman - to treat as a fool." The earliest citation for that phrase is 1873. From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G" by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

: : : Do I have to say that these phrases are "now usu. considered offensive"?

: : Nope, please keep saying it.
: : Eventually and hopefully racist and stereotypical phrases will fade away--not with a bang but.....

: I agree.

: There is what I think is an interesting use of this word. Both "Chinaman" and "rabbi" mean a person's political sponsor or mentor. I don't know how that meaning came to be. I first read the "chinaman" usage in a mystery about politics in Chicago.

If we're talking alternate meanings of "chinaman", it also means a type of spinning delivery bowled by a slow left-arm bowler in the arcane game of cricket, breaking from off to leg (left to right) as it bounces. Don't ask me why.