Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Episode 51: Chip Off The Old Block Transcript

Click on “Read More” for the full transcript.

We used Temi to auto transcribe this, then Dan went through and checked it based on the show notes. He tried really hard on it, but this kind of stuff isn't his specialty. So if you notice anything confusing, please comment on this post so Dan can look at it and clarify anything.

Dan:                                     00:00                    Welcome to bunny trails, a whimsical adventure videos and are there turns of phrase, I'm Dan Pugh
Shauna:                               00:05                    and I'm Shauna Harrison. Each week we delve into the origin and history of an idiom or other turn of phrase and discuss how it's been used over time. This week we celebrated father's Day in the United States and maybe another countries? Uh, this is a day when we celebrate our dads or dad figures for all of the awesome things that they do for us. Like feed us, clothe us, provide shelter, give guidance and all that jazz.
Dan:                                     00:30                    Mow The lawn, take out the trash.
Shauna:                               00:33                    Yeah, good stuff. Barbecue.
Dan:                                     00:34                    Oh yeah. Heck yeah. Barbecue.
Shauna:                               00:35                    So this week I decided to choose a, a fun phrase, which is chip off the old block. Now Dan being a dad, what are your thoughts on this phrase?
Dan:                                     00:48                    I have no idea where this phrase would have come from. I'm not sure I've thought about this particular one for a very long time. And now that you say it, I guess like wood chip, like maybe like a splinter off of like a bigger piece of wood? It's kind of, I guess where I would go with the origins of that one. I mean, I know what it means, but like, I don't know, I have no idea where it would come from. So I'm very excited to learn.
Shauna:                               01:16                    Okay, let's see How Dan measures up here.
Dan:                                     01:18                    Oh poorly, I'm sure
Shauna:                               01:20                    From the Collins Dictionary, "a person who is very similar to one of their parents in appearance, character or behavior." So unlike many idioms, this one has a single word in it that is really the crux of the phrase. And that word is chip.
Dan:                                     01:37                    Makes Sense.
Shauna:                               01:38                    Yeah. At chip is a small and especially thin piece of wood, stone or other materials separated by hewing cutting or breaking. I'm also defined as a thin fragment, chopped or broken off.
Dan:                                     01:50                    Okay. So I'm not far off yet.
Shauna:                               01:53                    Me, you are not. So unless otherwise specified, it is understood to be wood made of wood. Um, and to mean those made by the woodcutter and carpenter in the course of their work. So we first saw the use of the word chip around 1330 by Robert Mannyng a, he's an English chronicler and Gilbertine monk. And this was in Mannyng's chronicle. He states that "What hews over his head, the chip falls in his eye". <Þat hewis ouer his heued, þe chip falles in his ine.> If you go chop and stuff above your head then than pieces of it are going to fall in your eye.
Dan:                                     02:30                    Yes. I think, was it a Michelangelo, like partially blinded from painting the Sistine Chapel when things fell into his eyes because he was laying on his back or is that,
Shauna:                               02:40                    wow, I've never heard that. But that's a fascinating thing that now I'm going to have to look up.
Dan:                                     02:44                    Yes. I Dunno. I suddenly, as I was saying it, I suddenly realized I have heard this, but now have done absolutely no independent verification. So...
Shauna:                               02:52                    I do know that he was paid to paint it and then, uh, there were, uh, there was a, a church guy who didn't think that, that it was very polite and so he followed around and painted little underwear on the cherubs. Ah,
Dan:                                     03:08                    I did not know that, but that's very interesting. Yeah. Not to get too far down this bunny trail, but then that also makes me think of that one painting that was going to be restored and the lady painted the picture of Jesus and it looked like a three year old had done it because the way she had restored it just looked like... awful
Shauna:                               03:24                    No, that's sad.
Dan:                                     03:27                    Yeah. Anyway...
Shauna:                               03:27                    "Chips" first figurative use was around 1542 in the collected poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt, "a chip of chance, more than a pound of wit". The figurative use of the word continued to grow and change. Uh, but it helped us get to chip off the old block. So originally our idiom used the word "of" rather than "off".
Dan:                                     03:50                    Oh, so like chip 'of' the block or chip 'of' the old block, something like that.
Shauna:                               03:55                    Yeah. Yeah.
Dan:                                     03:56                    That actually makes more sense.
Shauna:                               04:01                    Yes. The Oxford English dictionary gives us Chip Of The Same Block and this is "a person or thing derived from the same source or parentage". And then also Chip Of The Old Block, "one that resembles his father or reproduces the family characteristics". This is also applied to things and now frequently we hear chip off the old block.
Dan:                                     04:21                    So this would be one of those, uh, also chip off the old block would be similar in, not necessarily origin, but in meaning to 'the apple doesn't fall from far from the tree'.
Shauna:                               04:33                    Yes.
Dan:                                     04:33                    Gotcha.
Shauna:                               04:34                    I kinda like that one. Um, but sometimes it's used negatively and so I didn't, I didn't want that. I wanted something positive.
Dan:                                     04:41                    Sure. No, that makes sense.
Shauna:                               04:42                    Yeah. The first time we see our phrase chip, well Chip Of The Old Block attested in literature is in 1627 from Robert Sanderson's Twelve Sermons Preached. And in sermon one we find, "Am not I a child of the same Adam, a chip of the same block with him?" In 1751, Tobias Smollett in The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, which I've referenced before and I just feel like now I need to read this because it's such a good name,
Dan:                                     05:12                    Peregrin Pickle. I have no idea what that's about. And I am very interested now.
Shauna:                               05:18                    Yeah. I've not a clue. Uh, our quote is "A true chip of the old venereal block his father."
Dan:                                     05:26                    I think venereal meant, Um, something different in 1751 then we jokingly like to use it as now. Well, it's probably the same root still, but it is definitely transformed these days.
Shauna:                               05:38                    Different spelling a little bit too. Their, just, you know, so we're clear.
Shauna:                               05:43                    In the gazette of the United States, in Philadelphia daily advertiser, and this is out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Um, we're looking at the May 24th, 1798 edition "by Heaven. It shall not be said that the Americans have 76 were succeeded by a submissive and degenerative race. That teemly surrendered up the liberties and independence of their country without even a struggle. There are too many chips of the old block left to allow this to be said with truth."
Dan:                                     06:15                    I, uh, yeah, it said 76 and I was like, do they mean 1776? But then I was like, Oh yeah, you did say that this was 1798. Of course they did mean 1776. Yeah.
Shauna:                               06:26                    Yeah. Which actually I thought that was interesting because you know, we've used that a lot and you know, the people say nineties or 91 or something like that and just assume that everyone knows, we mean 1990s but they were doing it back then too in the 1700s and it's just referring to the decade in 1833 Albany Fonblanque. I can't say this name.
Dan:                                     06:49                    It's f o n b l a n q u e Albany. Fomblank? Fromblank? From... sure . Yeah, that one.
Shauna:                               07:00                    I don't know.
Dan:                                     07:02                    We don't have any idea. I'm not sure...
Shauna:                               07:04                    <Albany Fonblanque> England Under Seven Administrations, "The crab is, it's mother's child. A chip of the old block." I don't know if being a crab crab, the crab is its mother's child. I don't know if that's an insult or a compliment on that one.
Dan:                                     07:24                    I think that, that there's nothing wrong with being a crab if you're talking about the like Marine Crustacean... I almost said animal, but then I'm like, now I'm suddenly unsure. What is an animal on what's not an animal.
Shauna:                               07:39                    It's an animal.
Dan:                                     07:40                    So I was just like, wait
Shauna:                               07:42                    Creature you could say creature.
Dan:                                     07:43                    Suddenly I don't even know what animals are anymore, so I'm just like, Ooh, let's, I slowly backed away from that and got myself stuck in a really hard spot. So if it's not a crustacean, sorry, it's got it. It's got a shell. Right. I don't think being a crab is bad. It's being crabby. That's bad.
Shauna:                               07:59                    We see this usage again in the October 22nd, 1845 issue of the Richmond Palladium out of Richmond, Indiana. The story, the young rebel at tale of the Carolinas was originally published by the Ladies National Magazine in August of that year. And here's a quote from that story. "I almost called you a coward, son David. Said his father to him when they met. But you are a chip of the old block and I did you wrong. Deborah, he is a boy to be proud of. Is he not?
Dan:                                     08:31                    I don't think I understand what he was trying to say there. I thought he was saying bad things, but now he's saying good things.
Shauna:                               08:39                    Yeah, well I read enough of the story to find out that at least by this point, the dad was proud of his son, but more like proud of him for finally doing the thing that he thought he should have done, which was join the military force and you know, but his son hadn't done that to this point. Oh, I see. Yeah. Yeah.
Dan:                                     08:57                    But here it is, uh, still in 1845 where they're saying chip OF the old block. Interesting.
Shauna:                               09:05                    In the January 8th, 1889 briefs in the Salt Lake Herald out of Utah, we find mini news update section. And this one "said chip o' the old block, drew a good house last evening and the company fully sustained to their reputation as fun producers."
Dan:                                     09:25                    So this is chip o apostrophe the old block.
Shauna:                               09:28                    Right. And that was like the business name, right. In 1929, Herbert earnest Bates in his short stories, Seven Tales And Alexander, "he's my son and he's a chip off the old block and I'm proud of him".
Dan:                                     09:44                    So this is, this is off now in 1929 so we see it in the late 18 hundreds as of the old block or o' the old block, but in the early 19 hundreds we're seeing it as off the old block.
Shauna:                               09:58                    Yes,
Dan:                                     09:59                    Today's show is sponsored by our patrons on Patreon. You make bunny trails possible. We'd like to thank all our patrons and especially our logamorphology interns, Charlie Moore, Pat Rowe and Mary Lopez. is a subscription service that allows you to support content creators you love. It's free to sign up and follow along. If you're in a financial situation that allows for monetary support, you can get additional perks for as little as $1 a month. Features like early access to episodes, behind the scenes content, bonus episodes, and more are all available at
Shauna:                               10:36                    The movie chip off the old block released in 1944 it started Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan and Anne Blythe, "the son of a strict navy officer falls for the daughter of a musical comedy star." Sounds like a good, good 1940s movie. There a chip off the old block is a 2009 television drama from Hong Kong. "A Chip Off the Old Block tells the story of the articulate businessman Chor Chi, who accidentally travels back in time to the 1960s and meets his younger father, Chor Fan."
Dan:                                     11:13                    It's um, it's interesting that makes me think of the movie Frequency where the guy goes back in time sort of, there's an aura borealis and it did some weird things so that he could communicate via CB with his father who had died, who was a firefighter and died in the line of duty.
Shauna:                               11:33                    I remember the radio part. Yeah, it was a baseball movie.
Dan:                                     11:35                    And then, but then like there was also like a serial killer thing and it is, uh, then his mother ends up getting... I don't want to spoil too much... But then like, so they, he, you know, changes, do this conversation with his dad, changes the course of fate and then every time he changes something, like he's the only one that remembers it. And like everything just swirls and changes around him and it's very interesting. But anyway, it was a good movie. I liked it. I remember like the 90s movie,
Shauna:                               12:04                    So, oh my gosh. I was like 30 years ago.
Dan:                                     12:10                    All too close to 30 years ago.
Shauna:                               12:11                    Yes. A chip off the old block by Jody Jensen Schaefer was released in February, 2018
Dan:                                     12:19                    and what is this?
Shauna:                               12:20                    A book.
Dan:                                     12:21                    Gotcha.
Shauna:                               12:22                    A plucky pebble shows true grit as he travels the country, trying to find out if he fits in with any of his famous rock formation relatives.
Dan:                                     12:31                    Oh wait, is this a, is this about an actual rock?
Shauna:                               12:37                    Rocky comes from a long line of rock stars! Uncle Gibraltar, Aunt Etna, and Great-Grandma Half Dome are just some of the legendary rock formations he calls family. It's no wonder he wants to matter in a big way too--but it's not easy trying to get a foothold. Rocky gets tossed by The Wave and driven away at Devil's Tower--but he's determined not to allow these pitfalls to chip away at his confidence. Rather than feeling crushed, he keeps on rolling, hoping to become the rock-star he knows he's meant to be.
Dan:                                     12:55                    That's um, that is a very interesting, and pun filled, a book so far.
Shauna:                               13:17                    Yeah, it's a children's book. I mean it looks kind of like just a picture almost board book. So that's some serious punning going on in a little bit of space there. So clearly this is an idiom that's not going anywhere anytime soon. In addition to the mini books and movies and TV shows, it gets a lot of play by just everyday people @JadeGemAqua shared on Twitter "a chip off the old block, a baby hawk inherits Mama's beauty" and has some real sweet pictures of a baby hawk.
Shauna:                               13:52                    I mean pictures only a mother would love. There is a really lovely tweet by !RyanMacDonald_6, the second week of June this year he shared a few photos of him and his son and he said another proud dad moment, Ryan and his Hillwood teammates one there, Griffin... Giffnock tournament, a worldly winner and goes on. And then uh, this was, that post was retweeted by at Monica series of numbers with the quote. Wow. Onpoint Emoji. Smiley face Emoji. Soccer Ball Emoji. Well Done Ryan. A chip off the old block party. More emojis. Very happy is what's going on here. But altogether it was really sweet. And then maybe my favorite recent tweet is from @CharlieMilligan who shared a photo of an elderly gentleman, gentleman finishing off a bottle of Campo Veijo Rojo and the caption read chip off the old block and laughy Emoji Hashtag red wine and hashtag cheese and Hashtag that's my old man.
Shauna:                               15:04                    This phrase in genders, a sense of familiarity with the subject. So I think it has a way of bringing people into this story or the conversation and making everyone feel like they're a part of the in-group. Uh, for the most part people are using it to acknowledge and highlight the positive attributes that a parent has passed on to their child. And I think those are some of the best traditions, like the intangibles that are passed from one generation to the next, like kindness and compassion, grit and hard work and a deep appreciation for wine. And these are the most important things that we can pass on.
Shauna:                               15:41                    Well, that about wraps this up for today. Thanks so much for joining us. If you haven't already, take a moment to go to your podcasting App and rate us. Spread the love to your fellow word nerds by letting them know how much you enjoy the show. If you have a suggestion for an idiom or other turn of phrase, or you just want to chat, you can catch us on Twitter and Instagram and occasionally even Facebook all @BunnyTrailsPod or you can get links to everything we do at
Dan:                                     16:07                    This week we want you to go check out our Patreon page, You'll get direct access to talk with the two of us and loads of other perks, and truly it is the best way to help support independent creators for whatever amount you can afford. This week we're going to have a free episode up so you can hear a little bit more about Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel and the things we learned after we recorded this episode.
Dan:                                     16:34                    Thanks again for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week and until then, remember
Together:                           16:38                    words belong to their users.

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