What's the etymology of "chat" as in "chat potato"?

Apparently "chat potato" refers to small potatoes suitable for swine food.

Regarding the origin, Some sites online list it as "origin unknown" or similar. Is that true?

Here is an example reference to this term on the web: "Chat or baby potatoes are ideal for roasting, steaming or boiling and are often served whole with their skins on." From https://www.taste.com.au/healthy/articles/chat-potatoes-2/bxr6vu7m

Many/most references I can find seem to be Australian sites.

  • I have on a few rare occasions seen "chat" used in a sense that I take to mean bits of food or other substances, but I have no idea as to the origin of this.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 18, 2019 at 1:35
  • Can you give a sentence with relevant context? A link to where you might have read this phrase?
    – Mitch
    Dec 18, 2019 at 3:12
  • 1
    Mitch: Added an example usage from the web. Dec 18, 2019 at 5:29

2 Answers 2


The following two sources suggest a possible origin or connection with the term “chit”:

Chat, — small potatoes are so named : — perhaps chits

(A new dictionary of the English language by Charles Richardson)

Chat - A small potato, such as is given to swine.


Compare chit (“small piece of paper”), and chad.

(William Safire, The Right Word in the Right Place at the Right Time, p. 43, Simon and Schuster, 2007)


As India is not far away from Australia there is a chance that Chaat is the root.

  • 3
    India is not far away from Australia in the same way that London is not far away from New York - it's a fair distance. And their relative proximity is probably not a factor in the modern world anyway. Dec 18, 2019 at 10:46
  • There's also the cultural link with the British Empire owning both India and Australia, and the frequent movement of labor between countries in the empire; many Indian-derived words crop up in British English for the same reason. Chaat was my immediate thought, although I've no evidence.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 18, 2019 at 10:59
  • @KillingTime: You presume 'chat potato' is a produce of the modern world and as young as airplanes (= distance killers)? It is not necessarily so. That's why I also consider geographic proximity and (a new one!) the membership of both Australia and India in the Commonwealth.
    – Ben A.
    Dec 18, 2019 at 11:06

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