I heard this idiom "The chips will fall as they may." in the Elementary drama. I want to know what it means so I have been trying to search it on the internet. But what I could only find is "let the chips fall where they may".

I want to know if the idiom "The chips will fall as they may." really exist or it does not?


OP's citation (which has only 19 instances in Google Books) is a misquotation/adaptation of...

Let the chips fall as they may (2090 written instances)

And you can tell that's an "idiom", because in modern English we'd probably prefer will rather than may (but in fact there are only 70 instances of that version).


As you found yourself,

Let the chips fall where they may.

is by far the way the idiom is most commonly expressed -- more than 210 times more common (per Google) than the form that FumbleFingers found:

Let the chips fall as they may.

Searching for

The chips will fall as they may.

yields only 8 results -- 3 from this site, and the rest from a Danish crafts site.

However, that it exists as an idiom ("an expression whose meaning is different from the meaning of the individual words") is beyond doubt, because its meaning is unaltered by its modified wording.

  • FYI: Your Google links do not work—replacing the GET variable initiator ? with a hash tag means it is not interpreted as a GET variable, and the link just goes to a blank Google search page. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 17 '13 at 20:46
  • Is the meaning unaltered? "The chips may fall as they will" would mean roughly the same as the 'original', but probably not the other way round. – Tim Lymington Nov 17 '13 at 21:19
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Odd, they work for me -- even after I sign out of Google. Let me try a couple of things... – Gnawme Nov 17 '13 at 23:43
  • Speaking of the google link, at the beginning of the variable string is: "forced into insurance." I found that mildly interesting. – Lumberjack Nov 18 '13 at 1:20
  • @Lumberjack Yeah, saw that on FumbleFingers' links as well. Not sure where that came from. – Gnawme Nov 18 '13 at 1:22

It sounds like a minor variation on the more common idiom you cited. Most idioms are occasionally varied by people either because they misremember them, they want them to sound more fresh, they are adapting them to a new situation or just because they feel like it.

In this case, the original idiom has more a sense of "letting things unfold", the variation is more fatalistic.

  • I don't think there's ever any semantic distinction between the most common form and OP's variation, either intended by the speaker, or understood by the reader/hearer. – FumbleFingers Nov 17 '13 at 4:42

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