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.

The phrase "fat chance" can be used as a way of sarcastically describing the impossibility of something, but where did it originate from? I've googled it several times, and it always comes up with the definition, not the origin.

share|improve this question
1  
My guess would be that it's either sarcasm, implying it has an extremely slim chance of happening. Or it's implying that it would take an extremely large chance happening to occur. I hope you get a good answer. –  Wayne May 18 '11 at 1:30
    
See also fat lot of good: english.stackexchange.com/a/47296/9001 –  Hugo Oct 27 '12 at 10:13
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I believe this simply derives from one sense of the word fat:

fat 2a well filled out : of sizable proportions : THICK <a ~ letter> <a ~ volume of verse> : BIG <a resistor spark plug ... permits a wider gap, thus a fatter hotter spark — Newsweek> : unusually large <he had to pay a ~ price to move his factory — Martin Turnell> [Websters 3rd New Int'l Dictionary]

The term is used ironically. At face value it means there is a large chance of something happening, but underneath it really means there is a slim chance after all.

share|improve this answer
add comment

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.