verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to score or earn: They chalked up two runs in the first inning.
- to charge or ascribe to: It was a poor performance, but may be chalked up to lack of practice.
Origin of chalk
verb (tr, adverb) informal
Word Origin for chalk
1570s, "to mix with chalk;" 1590s as "to mark with chalk," from chalk (n.). Related: Chalked; chalking. Old English had cealcian "to whiten." Certain chalk marks on shipped objects meant "admitted" or "shipped free," hence some figurative senses. Chalk boards also were commonly used in keeping credit, score, etc., hence figurative use of chalk it up (1903).
Old English cealc "chalk, lime, plaster; pebble," a West Germanic borrowing from Latin calx (2) "limestone, lime (crushed limestone), small stone," from Greek khalix "small pebble," which many trace to a PIE root for "split, break up." In most Germanic languages still with the "limestone" sense, but in English transferred to the opaque, white, soft limestone found abundantly in the south of the island. Modern spelling is from early 14c. The Latin word for "chalk" was creta, which also is of unknown origin.
Score or earn, as in She chalked up enough points to be seeded first in the tournament. This term alludes to recording accounts (and later, scores) in chalk on a slate. [c. 1700]
Credit or ascribe, as They chalked their success up to experience. [First half of 1900s]