Of chippies and fags


The Americans are identical to the British in all respects except, of course, language.

-Oscar Wilde

My last post was tagged, among other things, as “chippie”. Not entirely sure about the spelling (I’m not a native speaker after all) I checked it out online. Chippie seems alright as far as spelling goes there is, however, an alternative spelling “chippy”… What I found even more interesting is the meaning it can have in American English. Turns out a chippy is rather promiscuous and not very smart girl with a lack of taste re: clothing and make-up. This is at least the second time I stumbled across a word that has a completely harmless meaning in one variant of the English lanuage but quite pejorative one in the other. Which reminds me of my favorite “fag” story…

A few years ago whilst living in England I forgot “me fags”, i.e. cigarettes, at home when I went to work. So, I bought a ludicrously expensive 10-fag-pack, which didn’t last very long considering that I was also the main supplier of smokes for a colleague. On coming home I met my American housemate and exclaimed:

“Ah, there’s nothing like coming home and having a fresh pack of fags waiting for you.”

She laughed. “Now that sounds quite weird.”

“What’s weird about that? In Germany we’ve got fag vending machines at every street corner.”

“How gross.”

To make this clear, there was no homophobia involved on the housemate’s part, however, the idea of fag vending machines was obviously too much for her.

Okay, I’m going to pop down to the chippie and buy some fags on the way…

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