Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Chap - A Spiffing Fellow Indeed

A smiling young chap (man) with a beard and glasses
A fine looking chap indeed
(photo by Chris Zerbes)


Noun. Late 16th century.
[Abbreviation of CHAPMAN.]

1 A buyer, a customer. Now dialectical. L16
2 A man, a boy, a fellow; in plural also, people. colloquial. E18

A pedlar, a hawker, a chapman
The Itinerant Pedlar
Paul Sandby (1730-1809)


Noun. Now archaic or Historical. Plural chapmen.
[Old English ceapman, formed as CHEAP noun + MAN noun.]

1 A man who buys and sells; a merchant, a dealer. OE
2 specifically. A pedlar. ME
3 obsolete. A customer. ME-E19
4   A broker. LME-M17

chapmanship noun. the occupation or activities of a chapman. M16

What ho, chaps! If one wishes to speak like a proper English gent, then chap is an essential component of the old vocab. Be aware, however, that its origins are not altogether tickety-boo, as chap is an abbreviation of chapman, which is a blackguardly hawker of second-rate goods. And for those of the poetical inclination, it may be of interest that chapman is the origin of the word chapbook, which is one of those pamphlety whatnots full of ballads and poems that chapmen were so fond of peddling. Still, let's not get ourselves all in a pickle over the what-whys and well-I-nevers and d'you-mind-if-I-don'ts - chap is an absolute corker of a word and is just plum perfect for describing the type of spiffing chap that one plays a round of pitch and p with on a quiet Sunday afternoon. Toodle-pip!

Do please make your posish clear in the box below.

1 comment:

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