Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Every week at this time we tell the story of words and expressions used in American English. Some of them are old. Some are new. Together, they form the living speech of the American people.
Some popular expressions are a mystery -- no one is sure how they developed.
One of these is the expression "carry a chip on your shoulder." A person with a chip on his shoulder is a problem for anybody who must deal with him. He seems to be expecting trouble. Sometimes he seems to be saying "I'm not happy about anything, but what are you going to do about it?"
A chip is a small piece of something, like a chip of wood. How did this chip get on a person's shoulder? Well, experts say the expression appears to have been first used in the United States more than 100 years ago.
One writer believes that the expression might have come from an old saying. The saying warns against striking too high, or a chip might fall into your eye. That could be good advice. If you strike high up on a tree with an axe, the chip of wood that is cut off will fall into your eye. The saying becomes a warning about the dangers of attacking people who are in more important positions than you are.
Later, in the United States, some people would put a real chip on their shoulder as a test. They wanted to start a fight. They would wait for someone to be brave enough to try to hit it off.
The word "chip" appears in a number of special American expressions. Another is "chip off the old block." This means that a child is exactly like a parent. This expression goes back at least to the early 1600s. The British writer of plays, George Colman, wrote these lines in 1762:
"You'll find him his father's own son, I believe. A chip off the old block, I promise you!"
The word "chip" can also be used in a threatening way to someone who is suspected of wrongdoing. An investigator may say, "We're going to let the chips fall where they may." This means the investigation is going to be complete and honest. It is also a warning that no one will be protected from being found guilty.
Chips are often used in card games. They represent money. A poker player may, at any time, decide to leave the game. He will turn in his chips in exchange for money or cash. This lead to another meaning: A person who finished or died was said to have "cashed in his chips," which is a way of saying it is time for me to finish this program.
You have been listening to the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
I'm Warren Scheer.
1.chip vt. 削，凿；削成碎片 vi. 剥落；碎裂 n. [电子] 芯片；筹码；碎片；(食物的) 小片; 薄片
It contains real chocolate chips.
2.axe n. 斧 vt. 削减；用斧砍
The edge of this axe has turned.
3.block n. 块；街区；大厦；障碍物 vt. 阻止；阻塞；限制 adj. 成批的，大块的；交通堵塞的
Hold on to the third block, then turn left.
1.They would wait for someone to be brave enough to try to hit it off.
hit off 适合；将…打掉
I hope the new rules would hit off with my team.
You can't hit off the lid that way.
每周这个时候，我们都会讲美国英语的一个词汇典故。有的是古老的，有的是新的 。它们共同构成了美国人的生活用语 。
有的常用表达是个谜，没有人知道它们是怎么产生的。其中carry a chip on your shoulder（随时准备吵嘴打架的样子）就是这么一个表达 。这种随时都准备吵嘴打架的来，对每个必须跟他打交道的人来说都是个问题 。他似乎是想找什么麻烦，有时他看上去在说，“我就是对有些事不爽，那你又能怎样？”
一位作家认为这个表达可能来自谚语，这是在警告人们砍木头不要砍得太高，否则木屑会落到眼中。这是个好建议，拿着斧头砍树，如果爬得太高，木头屑就会落到眼中 。这个说法后来就成为一种警告，告诉人们袭击那些比自己重要的人是危险的 。
好几个美国谚语都用到了Chip一词，另一个就是chip off the old block，意思是酷像父母的孩子。
Chip这个词还可用来威胁涉嫌干坏事的人，一名调查员或许会说，“We're going to let the chips fall where they may”（我们将采取行动，不计后果。）意思是调查过程将会是完整，诚实的 。这也是一个警告，即任何人都不可能逃脱法律的制裁 。
chip还被用在纸牌游戏中，代表的是钱。玩扑克的人随时都可能决定离开游戏 。他会将自己的chips筹码兑换成钱或现金 。
这就引申出另外一个意思。一个完成工作或者结束一生的人也会被人说cashed in his chips 。用这个短语也可以表示，是时间来完成这个项目了 。