Expression idiomatique en anglais : a chip on the shoulder

chip on your shoulder

  • Definition: When someone is upset about something that happened a while ago.
  • Example: “He has a chip on his shoulder from years of being bullied as a kid.”


chip on his/her shoulder


  • holding a grudge or grievance
  • a perceived sense of inferiority
  • being angry because of something that happened in the past
  • habitually combative attitude
  • take offence easily


  1. He’s always picking up fights with everyone. He seems to have a chip on his shoulder.
  2. He has a chip on his shoulder for not being born into a rich family.
  3. He has a chip on his shoulder for not being invited to the party.
  4. Why do you get so aggressive at the slightest hint of criticism? You seem to have a chip on your shoulder.
  5. She has a chip on her shoulder about not getting admission into that university.

This phrase originated in the USA in the 1800s. It refers to a practice where people who were looking for a physical fight would place a chip of wood on their shoulders, challenging others to knock it off.


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