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[chaps, shaps]
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noun (used with a plural verb)
  1. a pair of joined leather leggings, often widely flared, worn over trousers, especially by cowboys, as protection against burs, rope burns, etc., while on horseback.

Origin of chaps

1810–20, Americanism; short for chaparajos
Also called chaparajos, chaparejos.


verb (used with object), chapped, chap·ping.
  1. to crack, roughen, and redden (the skin): The windy, cold weather chapped her lips.
  2. to cause (the ground, wood, etc.) to split, crack, or open in clefts: The summer heat and drought chapped the riverbank.
verb (used without object), chapped, chap·ping.
  1. to become chapped.
  1. a fissure or crack, especially in the skin.
  2. Scot. a knock; rap.

Origin of chap1

1275–1325; Middle English chappen; cognate with Dutch kappen to cut; akin to chip1
Related formsun·chapped, adjective


  1. Chiefly British Informal: Older Use. a fellow; man or boy.
  2. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. a baby or young child.
  3. British Dialect. a customer.

Origin of chap2

First recorded in 1570–80; short for chapman


[chop, chap]
  1. chop3.

Origin of chap3

1325–75; Middle English; perhaps special use of chap1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chaps

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • One of our chaps, taking in a load of wounded, was chased and pelted the other day.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • They were both just back from India, and natty-lookin' chaps as you ever saw.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • I'll turn one of my chaps on to writing half a dozen letters to the Editor about it!

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • We told these chaps we were deserters from the Bulwark, 74, and begged them to help us along.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • These chaps seemed to value a man by the enormity and number of his crimes.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for chaps


pl n
  1. leather overalls without a seat, worn by cowboysAlso called: chaparejos, chaparajos

Word Origin

C19: shortened from chaparejos


verb chaps, chapping or chapped
  1. (of the skin) to make or become raw and cracked, esp by exposure to cold
  2. Scot (of a clock) to strike (the hour)
  3. Scot to knock (at a door, window, etc)
  1. (usually plural) a cracked or sore patch on the skin caused by chapping
  2. Scot a knock

Word Origin

C14: probably of Germanic origin; compare Middle Dutch, German kappen to chop off


  1. informal a man or boy; fellow

Word Origin

C16 (in the sense: buyer): shortened from chapman


  1. a less common word for chop 3
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for chaps


1844, American English, short for chaparejos, from Mexican Spanish chaparreras, overalls worn to protect from chaparro (see chaparral).


"jaws, cheeks," from chap (n.), 1550s, of unknown origin. Hence, chap-fallen (1590s).



1570s, "customer," short for obsolete chapman "purchaser, trader" (see cheap). Colloquial sense of "lad, fellow" is first attested 1716 (cf. slang tough customer).



"to crack," mid-15c., chappen (intransitive) "to split, burst open;" "cause to crack" (transitive); perhaps a variant of choppen (see chop (v.), and cf. strap/strop), or related to Middle Dutch kappen "to chop, cut," Danish kappe, Swedish kappa "to cut." Related: Chapped; chapping. The noun meaning "fissure in the skin" is from late 14c.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper