- 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
- 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
Also, ghost of a chance. An extremely slim chance, a hopeless undertaking. Both versions are most often put negatively, as in He hasn't a Chinaman's chance of finishing the work in time, or They haven't a ghost of a chance to get as far as the playoffs. The first term, now considered offensive, dates from the late 1800s when many Chinese immigrants came to work in California and were resented because they worked for lower wages. Its precise allusion is unclear. The variant, which relies on the meaning of ghost as an insubstantial shadow, dates from the mid-1800s. Also see the synonyms fat chance; not an earthly chance.