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.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is this phrase exclusively meant with reference to sons similarities with their fathers or can it also be used to refer to "daughters and mothers" or "daughters and fathers" and other relations like uncles, nephews ?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The phrase doesn't necessarily have to refer to a father any more. As the Phrase Doctor mentions, it means:

A person or thing that derives from the source or parentage.

The site does mention that the phrase is usually meant to refer to a father, but that it isn't the only meaning:

In 'chip off the old block' it is the parent, especially the father, that is being called the old block.

So, you can feel free to use it to refer to the similarity between a child and either of their parents. However, I wouldn't necessarily use it to refer to a child and another family member: it is more understood as referring so someone's parentage.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, that helps me in a debate I'm having – JoseK Aug 29 '11 at 10:51

Its actual meaning is "a child who is similar to one or more of its parents."

So yes, it could be used for daughters too.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


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.