What does the idiom "chop and change" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase chop and change, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression chop and change used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "chop and change"


The idiom 'chop and change' refers to activities or attitudes that are constantly changing, fluctuating, or inconsistent. This phrase suggests that the changes occur frequently, but in an arbitrary or haphazard fashion. It is often used to describe something that is unpredictable or unsteady.


The phrase ‘chop and change’ originated in the 17th century. It is thought to come from the practice of chopping and changing pieces of wood to produce a sculpture or other artistic object. The phrase was later used figuratively to refer to the unpredictable nature of change.


The phrase ‘chop and change’ is usually used as a negative term to describe chaotic or unpredictable behavior. For example, when someone is accused of ‘chopping and changing,’ they are being accused of being inconsistent or unreliable. It can also describe a situation in which one’s behaviour is constantly changing, as in the phrase “trying to keep up with their chop and change attitudes.” It can also be used to describe activities that change rapidly and often, such as fashion trends or current events.

Example Sentences

  • He is always chopping and changing his mind about what he wants to do, I don’t think he knows what he wants.
  • She is never consistent in her decisions, always chopping and changing at the last minute.
  • The chop and change nature of the stock market makes it impossible to predict what will happen.
  • It can be hard to keep up with the chop and change trends in fashion.

The meanings of the words in the "chop and change" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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