Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Adam Jones, the Wales and Lions prop, was reported as saying about his policy regarding the referee before yesterday's match:-

You have to get the ref on the right side of you. You don't want to be in their face, chopsing at them, getting on their nerves and pissing them off...

Chopsing is a new word to me. Looking it up, the only definition I can find is on the Urban Dictionary:-

'Chopsing' is a Welsh slang term for arguing or saying disrespectful things to someone.

This seems quite an apposite definition, and works well given the context, but is there a more reliable source for this word? Are there any clues as to the etymology?

share|improve this question
    
A British slang collection has: "chopsy Adj. 1. Chatty. [Welsh/Stoke use] 2. Moody, annoyed." (peevish.co.uk/slang/c.htm) –  MετάEd Jul 1 '13 at 4:16
    
Then there's "busting someone's chops," which has to do with harassing someone unnecessarily. How exercising one's own jaws in a derogatory or harassing manner involves breaking or busting another person's jaws is a kind of mystery to me, but then sayings do not always make sense. I suppose words, on the other hand, can inflict psychological damage on another person, so the breaking of jaws with one's words is metaphorical for doing psychological damage. Personally, the saying is one of my faves! "Hey, stop busting my chops, will ya? –  rhetorician Jul 1 '13 at 18:03

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

OED has this definition (sense 8) for chop...

trans. To exchange or bandy words; esp. in to chop logic;
to exchange logical arguments and terms, bandy logic, reason argumentatively, argue.
(In late use, often erroneously referred to chop sense 1, as if to mince, divide minutely, split hairs, or hash up.)

So etymologically it's not related to chop (usually pl. Jaws; sides of the face), which is from chap. Nor is it very closely related to chop = cut up, as OED points out above.


Regardless of whether the variant chopsy derives from the "bandy words" or "mouth/jaw" sense, there seems no doubt it's originally/primarily Welsh. Here's an early instance from Welsh Author Ron Berry in The Full-time Amateur (1966)...

"Just let him know ... and don't be so bloody chopsy, ah, if you don't mind?"

Julie Coleman in The Life of Slang (2012) includes chopsy in a list of "slang terms originating or chiefly used in Wales", and this website locates it even more precisely in South Pembrokeshire (the South-Western tip of Wales).

share|improve this answer

Since "chops" can be slang for "mouth" (see Collins), it makes sense that "chopsing at" would be synonymous with "mouthing at."

share|improve this answer
    
If by 'mouthing at' you mean 'mouthing off at', you are correct. Someone who is chopsy is impertinent and argumentative. Chopsing is the verb. –  ElendilTheTall Jun 30 '13 at 18:55

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.