What does the idiom "chip off the old block" mean?

The expression chip off the old block is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the chip off the old block idiom.

Meaning of "chip off the old block"


The phrase 'chip off the old block' is an idiom used to refer to someone who has inherited the traits and characteristics of their parent or other relative. It suggests that the person is very similar to their relative in terms of personality, physical appearance, and behavior. It can also be used to refer to someone who is following in a relative's footsteps in terms of profession or accomplishment.


The origin of the phrase 'chip off the old block' comes from the Bible, specifically from the Book of Proverbs, 22:6. In the King James Bible, this verse reads "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This phrase has been interpreted as a command from God to instill moral values and teachings in children so that they will stay true to them when they are older. Through time, the phrase evolved to become 'chip off the old block' and acquired its current meaning.


The phrase 'chip off the old block' is typically used to describe a person's character or physical appearance, but it can also be used to describe their accomplishments or the type of work they do. It is usually a positive form of praise, as it implies that the person has been able to carry on the positive qualities of their relative, or follow in their relative's footsteps. It may also be used in a teasing manner, to suggest that the person is excessively similar to their relative.

Example Sentences

  • That boy is a chip off the old block—he already knows how to fix the car just like his grandfather did!
  • Most of the doctors in the family are chips off the old block. They all went to the same medical school!
  • She's just like her mother—a real chip off the old block!

The meanings of the words in the "chip off the old block" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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