Chew Someone out (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Chew Someone out"?

The term "chew someone out" means verbally scold someone.
Chew Someone out (Origin)
The term to "chew someone out" originates from the 1940s in the US military. It derives from the military saying to "chew someone's balls" as a form of punishment. It is, of course, an idle threat, much like "I'll rip your arm off and bash you with the soggy end."

Competing Theory

"To chew someone out" originates from the US military in the 1940s. It comes from the practice of consistently shouting at someone while being in their personal space, typically touching faces. When viewed by a third party, it looks like the shouter is chewing on the "offender."

Of note, both of these theories claim that the term comes from the 1940s. This is supported by Google's Ngram Viewer, which scans millions of publications released in the last two centuries. Therefore, it is likely this term came to prominence during World War II.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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