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[chahy-nuh-muh n] /ˈtʃaɪ nə mən/
noun, plural Chinamen.
Older Use: Offensive. a term used to refer to a Chinese person or a person of Chinese descent.
(often lowercase) Older Slang: Offensive. a person regarded as one's benefactor, sponsor, or protector:
to see one's chinaman about a favor.
(lowercase) Archaic. a person who imports or sells china.
a Chinaman's chance, Older Use: Offensive. the slightest chance:
He hasn't a Chinaman's chance of getting that job.
Origin of Chinaman
First recorded in 1765-75; China + -man
Usage note
Historically, Chinaman was a neutral compound word, similar to Irishman or Englishman, but it began to take on negative connotations in the 19th century, when many Chinese immigrants went to work in the American West. The expression a Chinaman's chance originally made reference to these Chinese laborers, though the exact origin of the phrase is disputed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for Chinaman
Historical Examples
  • On the instant the old Chinaman was electrified into sudden and astounding action.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • During these revelations Bulan had sat with his eyes fixed upon the Chinaman.

    The Monster Men Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • He, and he alone, in this insane city, will wait at table (the Chinaman doesn't count).

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • The by-standers went their ways, and the Chinaman, assisted by the policeman, his own.

    American Notes Rudyard Kipling
  • And when the Chinaman saw the dog, he said to him, "what do you do for a living?"

    Five Mice in a Mouse-trap Laura E. Richards
  • He can command the Chinaman, and that––Besides, all this is not to the point.

    The Heart of Thunder Mountain Edfrid A. Bingham
  • As no Chinaman likes to appear disrespectful to his mother, Hung Li said no more.

    The Little Girl Lost Eleanor Raper
  • The Chinaman stokers went in a disorderly rush for the port boats.

    End of the Tether Joseph Conrad
  • He shouted to me in English: 'Let four men enter your compound to get that Chinaman!'

  • I want you up here to help me and Bun Hin's Chinaman to count that money.

    Typhoon Joseph Conrad
British Dictionary definitions for Chinaman


noun (pl) -men
(archaic or derogatory) a native or inhabitant of China
(often not capital) (cricket) a ball bowled by a left-handed bowler to a right-handed batsman that spins from off to leg
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
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Word Origin and History for Chinaman

1711, "native of China," from China + man (n.). Also in 18c., "dealer in china wares" (1728).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for Chinaman



  1. A sailor who works in a ship's laundry (1950s+ Merchant marine)
  2. A police officer's patron and influential political friend; rabbi: police officer needed a Chinaman, or sponsor (1970s+ Police)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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