|This girl looks chuffed with her Harry Potter collection ...|
(photo by Martina K Photography)
Adjective. Slang. Mid-20th century.
[Compare with CHUFF adjective, chubby, fat, pleased, happy (origin unknown).]
1 Pleased. M20
2 Displeased. M20
An odd dichotomy to growing up with a distinctly English accent is that many people don't like the English on principle - apparently we're cold, stuck up, arrogant, condescending, chauvinistic, have terrible food and a horrible colonial history. On the other hand, people are simultaneously fascinated, even enamoured, with us - we've given the world the international language, Mr Bean and the Premier League, are bizarrely good-mannered, are an (oddly small) world power, and we speak in a charming, old-fashioned, quaint but rather attractive way. And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about this on principle that the English are not to be liked, I've been told each of the above things personally. Numerous times. Wherever I've travelled.
So perhaps I can be excused for sometimes playing on my accent and way of speaking. While I don't quite have the full on, six plums in the mouth, BBC Received Pronunciation that is the Queen's English, my accent, being from the south of England, is just 'proper' enough and replete with enough bizarre, old-world Britishisms to carry that charm. And yes, at times I play on that for my own advantage, loading my language and writing with more crikeys, dashings, blimeys, muppets and bloodys than I would otherwise use naturally (not that such words won't just pop out of my mouth all of their own accord anyway).
One particular Britishism that never needs any help, however, is chuffed, a word that's unusually popular with foreigners (particular Americans) but one that, to me, is so natural that it always takes me by surprise when an American girl points at me with a beaming smile and exclaims "Aw! You said 'chuffed'! I just adore that word!"
|OMG no way! You guys actually speak like that!|
(photo by John MTS)
Why chuffed is so adorable, quaint and popular is something of a mystery. Perhaps, just as there are inherently funny words, there are inherently likeable words too, as chicle (chewing-gum) seems to be in Spanish. A friend from Madrid once asked me, out of the blue, if I liked the word chicle, as for some reason foreigners tended to and he didn't know why. Although I was a bit miffed at my English predictability, I had to admit that, yes, I really like the word chicle, and I didn't really know why either.
What's also bonkers about chuffed is that it's steeped in mystery and contradiction. According to the OED, chuffed doesn't only mean 'pleased' but 'displeased' too, although I have to say that in my 34 years as a native English speaker from England I have never heard it used in this way, and were someone to do so around my parts I would expect it to cause a bally dose of confusion.
As to what chuffed does mean, I would use it as a synonym for being delighted about something. Thus, rather than just waking up feeling chuffed for no particular reason, I would be chuffed because of something such as, say, receiving a compliment, or getting a job, or winning a game. Often, too, there is a touch of pride with chuffed, as I feel chuffed at a particular achievement.
However, a word of warning to non-native adopters of this much loved adjective - it's chuffed. Don't drop the ed and say 'chuff' as, depending on where you're from, this can mean a number of different things, including a boor, a miser, a generally unpleasant person, the buttocks, the anus and (ahem) a lady's private parts.
|This is a good reason for feeling chuffed|
(photo by Kirsty Andrews)
Do you like chuffed?
How do you use it?
Do please leave your most delighted and delightful comments in the box below.