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  • Mel Stone

Chip off, er, of the old block.


I know that when you release a book into the world, the world becomes its editor.


I know I'm just begging for my reviews and inbox to be full of people wanting to set me straight.


Word tried to autocorrect me.

Google told me I'm wrong.

So did the Cambridge dictionary, Collins, MacMillan, and dictionary.com.


They all say the phrase is, "chip off the old block".

But that's not what it was in 1825.


I have been heavily relying on Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue while writing The Ghost of Spring. I wanted to see if this phrase was in use back in the 1820s. It was. Sort of. It's missing an 'f'.


Here's the entry directly from Grose's 1811 version.

CHIP. A child. A chip of the old block; a child who either in person or sentiments resembles its father or mother. I put a link directly to the online version of the dictionary in this post so you can see it for yourself.


Research of idioms shows us that the phrase was first used back in 1621 when Bishop Robert Sanderson wrote, "Am I not a child of the same Adam...a chip of the same block with him?" That's what it was until 1870, when a newspaper in Ohio printed it as, "the child is too often a chip off the old block." And that's what we say today.


Ladies and gents that little 'f' is going to well, eff me over. Trolls and grammar experts are going to be coming out of the woodwork to tell me I'm wrong if I don't put in that little 'f'. But historians and die-hard researchers (like me) will be pointing out my factual inaccuracy if I do.


(Cue screaming and headbanging on the desk.)


Writing history is hard.

I haven't decided what to do yet. I really don't want to cut it.

I guess you'll have to read the book to find out when I release it.

(See how Mel tries to turn a possible headache into a brilliant marketing tool. Heh heh.)


Anyways, check out Grose's Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. (Hint hint family-Mel wants a hardback copy for Christmas ) It's got some beautiful gems in there like HUGOTONTHEONBIQUIFFINARIANS and RATTLE-PATE and my current favorite GRUMBLETONIAN.


Happy reading!

Mel




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