Chip on your shoulder


      • feeling resentful or angry about something in the past
        To describe someone who is holding onto a grudge or negative emotion from a previous experience and is quick to react with hostility or defensiveness

      • try to provoke someone
        To describe intentionally provoking or challenging someone, often in a confrontational or aggressive manner

      • inferiority complex
        To describe someone who constantly feels like they are being treated unfairly or are not given the respect they deserve, often stemming from a perceived disadvantage or disadvantageous past experiences

    Examples of Chip on your shoulder

    • He walks around with a chip on his shoulder all the time.

      This idiom is used to describe someone who carries around a sense of anger, resentment, or defensiveness, as if they are constantly being attacked or criticized by others. The "chip" is a figurative reference to a small piece of wood or stone that is chipped off from a larger object, which is often carried as a symbol of pride or defiance. When used in this context, it implies that the person is holding onto a perceived slight or insult, and allowing it to affect their behavior and attitude towards others.

    • After the meeting, I could tell she still had a chip on her shoulder about the decision.

      This usage demonstrates that the idiom can be used to describe a lingering or ongoing sense of resentment or anger, even after the initial cause has passed. In this example, the person being described still appears to be holding onto a perceived slight or insult, despite the fact that the decision in question has already been made and implemented.

    • I used to have a chip on my shoulder about my height, but I've learned to accept myself for who I am.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe a personal or emotional struggle, as well as how it can be overcome. In this case, the person being described was once defensive or resentful about their height, but has since learned to accept and embrace their own unique qualities.

    • She's always had a chip on her shoulder, but she's starting to let it go.

      This usage demonstrates the potential for growth and change, as well as the possibility of moving beyond a sense of anger or defensiveness. In this example, the person being described has a history of carrying around a sense of resentment or anger, but is now making progress towards letting go of those negative feelings.

    • I try not to let people push my buttons and put a chip on my shoulder.

      This example shows how the idiom can be used to describe a conscious effort to avoid negative emotions and reactions. In this case, the person being described is working to prevent others from causing them to become angry or resentful, by avoiding situations or interactions that might trigger those feelings.


    Overall, the idiom "chip on your shoulder" refers to a person's negative emotions or attitude that they carry with them, often from past experiences. It can describe feelings of resentment, a tendency to provoke others, or an underlying inferiority complex.

    This idiom is typically used in a negative context to describe someone who is easily angered or defensive. It can also imply a sense of insecurity or a need for validation. Someone with a "chip on their shoulder" may also have a tendency to blame others for their problems and may struggle to let go of past grievances.

    Origin of "Chip on your shoulder"

    The origin of this idiom is believed to come from the practice of placing a literal chip of wood on one's shoulder as a challenge for someone to knock it off. This was a common practice in the 19th century among young men to prove their toughness and bravery. If someone knocked the chip off, it would often lead to a physical altercation.

    Over time, the phrase evolved to refer to a figurative "chip" or burden that a person carries with them, often in the form of negative emotions or a feeling of being wronged. It can also be linked to the concept of having a "chip on your shoulder" being seen as a sign of insecurity and a lack of confidence.