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What's the proper context to use this phrase? And who would usually say something like this? Sounds very childish.

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Well it is childish. I've not actually heard that one, but I imagine it's much the same as easy peasy lemon squeezy (i.e. - invariably somewhat 'tongue-in-cheek'). – FumbleFingers Apr 17 '11 at 22:46
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You would use this when someone won something, but it's quite colloquial. The "chicken dinner" part is just a nonsense rhyme, in the same class as "easy-peasy" (including its citrus and racist variations).

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This is usually heard in casinos. The croupier or dealer calls it out when someone wins (obviously). It comes (allegedly) from the days when a chicken dinner cost about as much as a minimum bet at one of the table games ($2). So winning such a bet was enough for a meal. The rhyme made it stick, of course.

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From the days when "a chicken in every pot" meant wealth, I would guess that a chicken dinner meant an expensive dinner. – Carl Brannen Apr 18 '11 at 2:35
"Chicken dinner" could also be derived from the French term poule, meaning "hen" from which we obtain pool. And in casinos and gambling games there is often a "pool of money". French poule (“collective stakes in a game”) ..., which has been explained anecdotally as deriving from an old informal betting game in France - 'jeu de poule' - Game of Chicken (or Hen, literally) in which poule became synonymous with the combined money pot claimed by the winner. – Mari-Lou A Nov 5 '14 at 6:37
That's a fanciful explanation, but I'm more persuaded by the rhyming of winner and dinner. – Robusto Nov 5 '14 at 10:00

I'm quite sure I heard it in a movie, maybe "21" in the underground casino scenes. I don't think it's used in real life though.

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I was just about to say this. :) – Ankur Banerjee Apr 18 '11 at 20:37
You mean "real casinos"? – Joe Z. Feb 22 '13 at 20:51

protected by RegDwigнt Feb 22 '13 at 15:48

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