Definition of chip in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /CHip/


1A small piece of something removed in the course of chopping, cutting, or breaking something, especially a hard material such as wood or stone: mulch the shrubs with cedar chips
More example sentences
  • Jabbing at the wood, they remove chips three to six inches tong.
  • Nests are lined with bark chips or wood shavings or are a shallow cup made of roots, leaves and other plant fibers.
  • The landowner gets quick cash, the company gets wood for chips, and workers at local sawmills get laid off.
fragment, sliver, splinter, shaving, paring, flake
1.1A hole or mark on a hard object or surface where a small piece has broken of: a chip on his tooth
More example sentences
  • There were no obvious tool marks, chips or defects, and the finish was perfectly consistent down to the sudden transition at the base of every fold.
  • If you're not prepared to rigorously keep up that pristine appearance, then the ensuing scuff marks, chips and cracks are sadly all too obvious.
  • It's a good way to discover scratches, chips and dents early.
nick, crack, scratch, notch;
flaw, fault
1.2British Wood or woody fiber split into thin strips and used for weaving hats or baskets.
Example sentences
  • I also found a nice handmade chip basket in different colored wood.
2North American A thin slice of food made crisp by being fried, baked, or dried and typically eaten as a snack: tortilla chips dipped in salsa banana chips
More example sentences
  • I chuckled to myself and dipped another warm chip into the salsa.
  • The students brought every kind of chip, dip and snack imaginable to make their last day a memorable feast.
  • He smiled and returned the kiss before taking another chip and dipping it in the salsa.
2.1A small chunk of candy added to desserts or sweet snacks, especially of chocolate.
Example sentences
  • She decided on two ice creams; one chocolate and one mint chip.
  • They all have pink frosting, but the insides are all different flavors, chocolate, cherry chip, black forest, whatever.
  • I made another one of those apricot and coconut and chocolate chip cakes and gave a big chunk of it to the boy's mum.
2.2 (chips) chiefly British French fries: an order of fish and chips
More example sentences
  • School heads have blamed the presence of chip vans and fast food shops for leading youngsters away from canteens at lunchtime.
  • Veggie sticks - when stacked into a fast food restaurant chip holder, they look like chips but they are so much healthier!
  • To test whether the oil is hot enough, dip a chip into the oil and watch.
French fries, fries, home fries, frites, pommes frites
3 short for microchip.
Example sentences
  • You find semiconductors at the heart of microprocessor chips as well as transistors.
  • Current integrated circuits, or computer chips, contain about 100 million transistors each.
  • The paper describes the proper structure for a new kind of metal electrode to accompany novel insulating materials in transistors on computer chips.
4A counter used in certain gambling games to represent money: a poker chip
More example sentences
  • That was a mercenary term for a poker game with fake chips, one just played for relaxation.
  • I thought maybe he'd taken a sudden interest in sewing but no - he intends to use them as gambling chips for poker games over at the other hotel.
  • A poker player with lots of chips can force the game.
counter, token, check
5(In golf, soccer, and other sports) a short lofted kick or shot with the ball.
Example sentences
  • More often than not you'll leave the next shot short with your chip or putt, and you'll probably be long with the next.
  • He hit a poor tee shot, required two chips to find the green and then two-putted from 10 feet.
  • If a player gets too aggressive on a downhill putt on one of those greens, his next shot could be a chip or a pitch from the fairway.
5.1 Tennis A softly sliced return intended to land between the net and the opponent’s service line.

verb (chips, chipping, chipped)

[with object]
1Cut or break (a small piece) from the edge or surface of a hard material: we had to chip ice off the upper deck
More example sentences
  • A small hand shovel was leaning against the dirt wall in front of him and Eron picked it up and began chipping away portions of the wall.
  • That afternoon I'd chipped my own pieces off the Wall.
  • A second test involves chipping small sections of concrete from the floor in several areas.
nick, crack, scratch;
1.1 [no object] (Of a material or object) break at the edge or on the surface: the paint had chipped off the gate
More example sentences
  • Bollards look unsightly with their paints all chipped off.
  • The lock had the appearance of a half - rusted mailbox; the wall it belonged to also owned a door with most of the paint chipped off.
  • Tables were overturned, the wood chipped off in jagged points with their legs snapped off and gnawed on.
break (off), crack, crumble
1.2Cut pieces off (a hard material) to alter its shape or break it up: it required a craftsman to chip the blocks of flint to the required shape [no object]: she chipped away at the ground outside the door
More example sentences
  • This would be repeated until the rock was chipped down to the approximate size and shape of one of the few dozen letters in the flatumm alphabet.
  • Once cooled, the outer clay is chipped away and the carbonized core reamed out, with the casting filed and chased.
  • It took three or four weekends to chip enough stone for one weekend's block laying.
whittle, hew, chisel, carve
2(In golf, soccer, and other sports) kick or strike (a ball or shot) to produce a short lobbed shot or pass: he chipped a superb shot
More example sentences
  • At the far end, Kanu shimmies outside the box, makes room for a shot and tries to chip the ball into the top left-hand corner.
  • The president was in the small putting green outside the Oval Office chipping golf balls and whining - he did this a lot - to his aides.
  • Beckham adroitly chips a dangerous ball into the box - who does he think he is, Zidane?



a chip off the old block

informal Someone who resembles his or her parent, especially in character.
Example sentences
  • And he's a brick, a chip off the old block, a good ‘un.
  • Daniel '71, Ph.D. '78 (early Islamic history), is what old-timers would call a chip off the old block.
  • Son has worked with father since his teens and, by all accounts, is definitely a chip off the old block for, like his dad, Chris is ‘a practical guy’.

a chip on one's shoulder

informal A deeply ingrained grievance or feeling of resentment, often deriving from a sense of inferiority and marked by aggressive behavior.
From an old custom of placing a chip of wood on one's shoulder as a challenge to a rival: if the rival knocked the chip off they were agreeing to fight
Example sentences
  • Savage, like many people who are motivated by hatred, has a chip on his shoulder as a failed academic rejected by liberal Berkeley.
  • I had a chip on my shoulder about the chips on other people's shoulders, and as so often with shoulder chips, the chips I perceived in others were often imagined or exaggerated.
  • I suppose you could grow up with a chip on your shoulder.

when the chips are down

informal When a very serious and difficult situation arises.
Example sentences
  • But when the chips are down (despite some pretty unlikely situations), their determination shines through.
  • And that in itself is another cause for satisfaction, another sign of a ‘team’ unified in its aim; when the chips are down and things aren't going their way they roll up their sleeves and dig in.
  • I learnt a lot about people and dignity when the chips are down and this started my interest in helping people plan their careers and achieve a measure of survivability.

Phrasal verbs


chip away

Gradually and relentlessly make something smaller or weaker: rivals may chip away at one’s profits by undercutting product prices
More example sentences
  • Raquel still stood stiffly, but the passion in his voice was gradually chipping away at her suspicions.
  • But over the match, Tranfield gradually chipped away at Nimmo's confidence and forced her to play long rallies.
  • Those are the people they're chipping away at now.

chip in (or chip something in)

Contribute something as one’s share of a joint activity, cost, etc. the rookie pitcher chipped in with nine saves and five wins the council will chip in a further $30,000 a year
More example sentences
  • Enough revenue was chipped in, so to speak, to allow him to open a new restaurant on Second Avenue, where the food wasn't as sublime as its inspiration but was far more affordable.
  • Old songwriting hand Tom Morgan chips in, so does Ben Lee with two beauties, and Jellyfish's Jon Brion not only co-produces but co-writes five tracks.
  • Do it now and don't forget to fill out a gift aid declaration so that Uncle Gordon Brown chips in and increases your donation by 28%.
contribute, make a contribution, make a donation, pay
informal fork out, shell out, cough up, kick in


Middle English: related to Old English forcippian 'cut off'.

  • The word chip was probably formed from an Old English word, forchippian, ‘to cut off’. A person who is thought to resemble one of their parents in character or behaviour can be described as a chip off the old block. The phrase was originally found in the forms chip of the same block and chip of the old block, so that the person appeared made from the same material. To have a chip on your shoulder is to be aggressively sensitive about something, usually some long-standing grievance or cause of resentment. The expression is first recorded in American English. An explanation can be found in an early example from the Long Island Telegraph of 20 May 1830: ‘When two churlish boys were determined to fight, a chip [of wood] would be placed on the shoulder of one, and the other demanded to knock it off at his peril.’Another meaning of chip is ‘a counter used in gambling games, representing money’, and such gambling chips, especially as used in the game of poker, feature in a number of common phrases. If someone has had their chips, they are beaten or out of contention. The idea is of having run out of gambling counters or chips with which to place a stake. Similarly, when the chips are down you find yourself in a very serious and difficult situation. To cash in your chips is to die—you are no longer ‘in the game’.

    Deep-fried slices of potato have been known as chips since the time of Dickens. You might think of the phrase cheap as chips as being a recent invention, but it, too, goes back to at least the 1850s, when it was used in an advert in The Times.

Words that rhyme with chip

blip, clip, dip, drip, equip, flip, grip, gyp, hip, kip, lip, nip, outstrip, pip, quip, rip, scrip, ship, sip, skip, slip, snip, strip, tip, toodle-pip, trip, whip, yip, zip

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: chip

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.