The idiom "chink in one's armor" refers to an area of vulnerability Wikipedia

Unfortunately, while a 'chink' can be a weakness, in recent times it has become a derogatory statement. This makes the phrase "chink in ones armor", or extended versions ambiguous in meaning.

“Chinks in special ops’ digital and physical armor poses challenges, experts say.”

Additionally, I've seen references to talking about the chinks in a plan or legal defense, where the intent is to compare these to actual armor.

In context it can be use innocuously, such as the US Army talking about actual weaknesses in its special forces armor, or in a more questionable way when referring to an Asian basketballer as a weakness on a team.

This leads to the potential of a double meaning of a statement, so having an alternate single-word would be useful, especially when talking about weakness in other things.

Alternatives such as "Achilles heel" seem to long and are hard to ease into speech, "weakness" has too broad a meaning, a "flaw" seems to imply a failure in design rather than a more passive term, and "spanner in the works" implies sabotage.

closed as off-topic by anongoodnurse, FumbleFingers, choster, andy256, TimLymington Feb 1 '15 at 21:21

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    You may think the phrase "chink in one's armor" is ambiguous, but I don't. It's quite clear and unambiguous in most contexts. And the slang use of the phoneme is such that the context will make clear the intended meaning is so strong that one almost has to work to try to invent situations where it would be ambiguous. – brasshat Jan 31 '15 at 6:33
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is based on a false premise. – anongoodnurse Jan 31 '15 at 6:44
  • I added an example where a "former ESPN writer who was fired for using the headline "chink in the armor" in reference to Knicks star Jeremy Lin". In that case 'chink' was widely considered a derogatory remark to Lins race. – user53089 Jan 31 '15 at 6:46
  • @brasshat I'm also requesting a single word as while 'chink in ones armor" is unambiguous, a "chink in the defense" is less so, and in common usage. If people consider it off-topic, so be it. – user53089 Jan 31 '15 at 6:48
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    Chink in the wall is how we were taught to translate the medium of Pyramus and Thisbe's communication. I, like half the class, am of East Asian descent, and can't say anyone found it offensive (though there were some giggles— the same way 14-year-old boys might giggle about male and female USB adapters or hearing Shakespeare refer to a bitch). Context is everything. – choster Jan 31 '15 at 20:20

Where the context points to chink having the unambiguous meaning of 'vulnerability', to deliberately interpret it as a racial slur is either an act of perversity or an attempt to be humorous (or both).

So for most situations (in other words, those where it would be almost impossible to mistake the intended meaning), I wouldn't fret about using chink, or make strenuous attempts to avoid doing so.

For those rare occasions where an alternative term is necessary in order to minimize the risk of causing offence, I suggest something like a point of weakness, a vulnerability or a vulnerable spot.

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    maybe in those situations you could use "a hole in the dyke" ;-) – Jim Jan 31 '15 at 5:56
  • @Jim - You have a dirty mind, Jim. I like that. – Erik Kowal Jan 31 '15 at 6:00