What Does It Mean To Be A “Chip Off The Old Block”?

A Chip Off the Old Block Means:

A child who closely resembles a parent, in either physical or mental characteristics.

The expression refers to anyone who either physically resembles one or both parents, or has personality traits. This turn of phrase is most commonly used to refer to men who look or act like their fathers.

The Origin of A Chip off the Old Block

The idea behind this expression– that something bears a resemblance to the bigger piece from which it was taken – dates all the way back to 270 BC. The analogy of a piece of wood or stone resembling the bigger piece from which it was cut first appeared in Theocritus’ book Idylls.

A minor variation of this idiom, a chip of the same block, was first used in Robert Sanderson’s Sermons in 1621.  – Am I not a child of the same Adam…a chip of the same block, with him?

Another rendering of the idiom, closer to its modern form, appeared in John Milton’s work –How well dost thou now appear to be a Chip of the old block.

The expression evolved into a chip off the old block late in the 19th century and the idiom as it is in the modern-day was first used in writing in 1870.


This phrase most commonly refers to men who resemble their fathers, but this isn’t always the case. The sample conversation below illustrates the correct use of this expression.

Valerie: Did you hear James got accepted for a football scholarship?

Sarah: I’m not surprised. Chip off the old block, that James.

A picture of father and son cooking with the phrase "Chip Off The Old Block"

Additional Examples

Some call the Curry brothers chips off the old block for good reason. Steph and Seth Curry are the sons of Dell Curry, who is the Charlotte Hornets all-time leader in points (9,839) and three-pointers (929). 

Coach Sharp called Keith “already a chip off the old block”, following in his father’s footsteps.  


The English turn of phrase “chip off the old block” refers to someone who is similar in character or appearance to either one or both parents.

Related: Here are some other often-used expressions you may want to have in your lexicon:Duly Noted, Bear With Me.

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By Connie Fisher

Connie Fisher is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business writing and marketing. She holds a bachelor's degree in media and journalism and has contributed to a slew of printed and online media, including Contra Costa Times, Daily American, the The Tri-Town News, NYC.com, and many more.

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