The word "Bluechip" is used to refer to large cap companies which are in existence for at least 10 years. But why are they called Bluechips? What does the word denote?
In gambling and poker, a blue-coloured counter represents a large amount of money. This meaning goes back to at least 1873, according to the OED:
1873 J. D. McCabe Behind Scenes in Washington xx. 507 He holds in his hand a stack of blue chips, worth twenty-five dollars apiece.
1904 S. E. White Blazed Trail Stories viii. 146, I reckon I don't stack up very high in th' blue chips.
Later, and interestingly the OED's first example is but one year later (suggesting there are earlier examples to be found), it was used for companies or stocks having high market values.
Also interestingly, the first few examples draw a direct parallel between playing poker and gambling on the stock exchange:
1874 San Francisco Chron. 5 Jan. 2/2 If times are good and the market flourishing, the game may be played with ‘blue chips’, as a gambler would say, the very high-priced stocks being the favourites.
1892 Los Angeles Times 12 Feb. 1/7 ‘What's bid for 100?’ cried a broker... ‘Run away, little boy,’ answered another..; ‘we are playing with blue chips only today.’
Unsurprisingly, as the two senses above are so closely dated, we can find earlies examples of the gambling one by searching old newspapers.
We have had another descent by the police upon the faro banks, and the capture of an indefinite quantity of red, white and blue chips, card boxes, faro tables, playing cards, etc, etc.
This 1866 newspaper writes of a man of "most luxurious habits":
Languidly and with a becoming blase air he would walk up to the faro table of a gaming room and invest a few hundreds in "blue chips" just as a starting "stake."
A Bluechip refers to a blue-colored poker chip of high value.
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