Back­ground

Spotlight - - LOST IN TRANSLATION -

The ex­pres­sion “a chip on one’s shoul­der” is nearly al­ways used with the verb “have (got)” — but note, for ex­am­ple, the quote above, or sen­tences like: “That chip on his shoul­der has hin­dered him all his life.” It is first at­tested in the US in 1830 and stems from a cus­tom whereby a boy itch­ing for a fight would place a wood­chip on his shoul­der and defy a ri­val (or ri­vals) to knock it off. Any­one who did thereby sig­nalled his will­ing­ness to fight.

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