I am not a native English speaker.

If my schoolmate yells at me "Hey chum!", I wonder if they are actually calling me chum or chump. How often is chum being used to refer to friends instead of "Hey bro/buddy"?

Please gives answer for US, UK and AU.


In the (Northeastern) United States, I've never heard the word "chum" used as a term of endearment outside of old (or period) films; it may be more common other certain areas and social circles. Chump, I would say, is equally rare. Both terms are rather dated.

However, I would argue that the frequency doesn't particularly matter, because the phrase "Hey, chump!" would be easily identified by the subsequent obnoxious comments, threats, or otherwise inflammatory remarks.

For the most part, those words aren't used anymore – I have seen, however, an increasing use of the word "champ" (as in, a shortened form of "champion") as both a term of endearment and as a sarcastic, often-patronizing insult (with varying degrees of severity; sometimes it's completely mean-spirited, and sometimes it's just some casual, friendly ribbing, as in, "Nice job, champ."). Unfortunately, if you're hearing that one, it's not necessarily going to be easy to tell how it is intended. You'll have to pick up on contextual clues and body language.

I have no idea how much of an isolated term "champ", in that context, is. Has anyone else heard it?

  • 2
    Yeah, I've heard champ as both a term of endearment and as friendly ribbing. Chum I've heard in movies but never used. I might refer to someone as a chump if I'm trying to avoid more colorful language, but I would never address someone as chump no matter what I thought of them. – Mike Mar 15 '14 at 5:25

In Britain 'chum' is a bit dated and not much used, except sarcastically - but neither is 'chump'

  • I'd tend to say, "old (ole) chum" Think of the song "Life is a Cabaret". – Mari-Lou A Mar 13 '14 at 7:08
  • Why yes! 1950s par excellence! – WS2 Mar 13 '14 at 7:30

In Australia, chum would only be used for ironic or humourous effect, such as when talking in silly English voices. Chump is rarely used.

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