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Chump change

Posted by Bob on June 04, 2007

In Reply to: Chump change posted by R. Berg on June 04, 2007

: : : What is the origin of the phrase 'chum change'? Isn't 'chump change' incorrect?

: : I take it you have looked this up in the archive, but are unsatisfied with what you found. "Chump" is often used to describe a dupe or a naive fool. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that "chump change" means a small or negligible amount of money, that it's slang of African-American origin, and that it can be found in print at least as early as 1967.
: : SS

: A little more: "Chump change" is a derisive label for low wages, like those paid to semiskilled workers at fast-food restaurant chains, rather than a lump sum. The idea is that only a chump will accept such a low-paying job. ~rb

And even more: it can also be a form of bragging by the nouveau riche. A spoiled professional athlete, resplendent in bling, may pass out large-denomination bills in a restaurant, claiming it's "just chump change." Such people are publicly adored and privately ridiculed by waitstaff.