Definition of chav in English:

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Pronunciation: /tʃav/


British informal, derogatory
A young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour.
Example sentences
  • The anti-social behaviour of male chavs seems to reflect their realisation that they are an underclass, not really needed any more, except when young for unskilled manual jobs.
  • Then I spot a group of five or six real chavs in hooded tops and trackie bottoms sitting on a wall by a bus stop.
  • He is England's most exciting young footballing talent, a teenage multi-millionaire… and a chav.



Example sentences
  • I'd rather die than wear a chavvy baseball cap.
  • I'd run completely out of petrol so an essential trip to the local chavvy garage was in order.
  • "England is very thuggish and chavvy now."


1990s: probably from Romany chavo 'boy, youth' or chavvy 'baby, child': sometimes said to have originated in Chatham, Kent, and to be a shortening of that name.

  • Baseball cap, fake designer sportswear, cheap jewellery—that is the uniform of the chav, a loutish, obnoxious youth who barged his way into the British consciousness in 2004. Popularized by websites and the tabloid press, the term caught on quickly, and soon women and older people too were being described as chavs. New words appear all the time, but chav caused great excitement to word scholars when it came on the scene. It seems to have been popular around Chatham in Kent during the late 1990s, and some people think that it is an abbreviation of the town's name, while others suggest it comes from the initial letters of ‘Council House And Violent’. The most plausible suggestion is that it is from the Romany word chavi or chavo, ‘boy, youth’. The related dialect word chavvy ‘boy, child’ was used in the 19th century and is still occasionally in use. The northeast variant of chav, charver, has been around since at least the 1960s, and chav can mean ‘mate, pal’ in Scots dialect. Chav was probably knocking around as an underground expression for a long time before it was taken up as a new way of insulting people.

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