Chip off the old block

Learn the meaning of "chip off the old block" and how to use this idiom to describe a person who resembles their parent with Studycat.

Chip off the old block

Today, we’re diving into an idiom that might make you think of sculpting or carving. But don’t worry – we’re not actually talking about chiseling away at a block of wood or stone. When someone says that a person is a “chip off the old block,” they’re not referring to a piece of craftsmanship.

This fun phrase is all about the similarities between a child and their parent. So, let’s put on our family-minded thinking caps and explore the meaning behind this wood-be expression!

What does “chip off the old block” mean?

Imagine you’re at a family gathering, and your little one is cracking jokes and making everyone laugh, just like their dad always does. Your grandma might smile and say, “Oh, that kiddo is such a chip off the old block!”

When someone uses this idiom, they’re pointing out that a child shares many qualities, characteristics, or talents with one of their parents.

It’s like saying the child is a small piece (or “chip”) that comes from the same source (or “block”) as their mom or dad.

Where does “chip off the old block” come from?

The idiom “chip off the old block” has been around for quite a while, with its origins dating back to the early 17th century.

The phrase likely comes from the world of wood carving or stone cutting. When a piece of wood or stone is chipped or cut away from a larger block, the smaller piece will have the same characteristics as the original block. Over time, this idea was applied to family resemblances, suggesting that a child is like a small “chip” that shares the same qualities as the “old block,” or parent.

Interestingly, there are similar phrases in other languages that convey the same idea. In Spanish, “de tal palo, tal astilla” translates to “from such a stick, such a splinter,” while the German saying “der Apfel fällt nicht weit vom Stamm” means “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

How to use “chip off the old block”

Ready to start using this idiom in your everyday conversations? Here are a few examples of how you can use “chip off the old block” in various situations:

  • “Look at Sarah, always tinkering with gadgets and machines. She’s a real chip off the old block, just like her engineer mom!"
  • "Did you see little Tommy’s painting? He’s quite the artist, a true chip off the old block. His dad is a professional painter, you know."
  • "I heard Jessica gave an amazing speech at the school assembly. She’s a natural public speaker, a chip off the old block – her father is a politician."
  • "Watch out, that little one has a mischievous grin, just like his uncle used to have. He’s definitely a chip off the old block!”

Other ways to say “resembling a parent”

While “chip off the old block” is a classic and fun way to describe a child who takes after their parent, there are plenty of other phrases that convey a similar meaning:

  • Like father, like son / Like mother, like daughter - These phrases suggest that a child resembles or behaves similarly to their same-gender parent.
  • The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree - This idiom implies that a child usually has similar qualities or characteristics to their parent.
  • Cut from the same cloth - When two people are “cut from the same cloth,” they share similar traits, qualities, or backgrounds.
  • Spitting image - If a child is the “spitting image” of a parent, they closely resemble that parent in appearance.

Fun ways to practice “chip off the old block”

Alright, let’s have some fun with this idiom!

Create a “Family Resemblance Scavenger Hunt” where you look through old photos and try to find similarities between family members. When you spot a child who looks or acts like their parent, exclaim, “Wow, they’re a real chip off the old block!” This activity not only helps your child understand the idiom but also strengthens family bonds and encourages storytelling.

Another idea is to play a game of “Chip Off the Old Block Charades,” where players take turns acting out different family members’ unique traits or talents. The other players must guess which family member is being portrayed and how the acting player is a “chip off the old block.” This game is a great way to celebrate family quirks and appreciate the qualities that make each person special.

The phrase “chip off the old block” is a heartwarming way to recognize the similarities between a child and their parent. By understanding and using this idiom, your child will not only expand their vocabulary but also learn to appreciate the unique bonds and characteristics that run in families.

Remember, whether you’re a big old block or a tiny little chip, family is what makes life’s mosaic so beautiful!