[ chip-er ]
/ ˈtʃɪp ər /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: chipper / chippered / chippering / chippers on Thesaurus.com

marked by or being in sprightly good humor and health.
Do you know the difference between everyday US and UK terminology? Test yourself with this quiz on words that differ across the Atlantic.
Question 1 of 7
In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…

Origin of chipper

First recorded in 1830–40; of uncertain origin; perhaps from northern English dialect kipper “lively, frisky”

Other definitions for chipper (2 of 3)

[ chip-er ]
/ ˈtʃɪp ər /

verb (used without object)
to chirp or twitter.
to chatter or babble.

Origin of chipper

First recorded in 1705–15; chip2 + -er6

Other definitions for chipper (3 of 3)

[ chip-er ]
/ ˈtʃɪp ər /

a person or thing that chips or cuts.
a machine that grinds up logs, tree trunks, discarded Christmas trees, etc., into wood chips.
Slang. a person who uses narcotic drugs only occasionally or in small doses.

Origin of chipper

First recorded in 1505–15; chip1 + -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does chipper mean?

Chipper is most commonly used as an adjective meaning upbeat, cheerful, and high-spirited, especially in an outward way.

Chipper is used to describe someone’s overall mood or attitude, or their actions. People sometimes get annoyed if they think a person is being too chipper—the word may be used to imply that such cheerfulness is annoying or inappropriate for the situation.

As an adjective, it can also mean nicely dressed, though this sense is used much less commonly.

Chipper can also be used as a noun referring to a machine that grinds wood (like tree trunks and branches) into chips. This is more commonly called a woodchipper.

Less commonly, chipper can be used as a verb meaning to chirp or twitter, like a bird does (a chipping sparrow, perhaps), or to chatter or babble, as in If you leave those two to themselves, they’ll chipper away the entire afternoon. 

Chipper also has a few slang uses, including as a term for a fish-and-chip shop in Ireland and Scotland.

Example: Ironically, I’m at my most chipper when I get to work the woodchipper—there’s just something really satisfying about it.

Where does chipper come from?

The first records of the use of the word chipper as an adjective meaning “cheerful” come from around the 1830s. Its origin isn’t known for sure, but it may come from the northern British dialect term kipper, meaning “lively.” The other main senses of chipper are recorded earlier and their origins are more straightforward: a woodchipper chips wood into chips; chip is a sound a bird makes, similar to chirp and cheep.

Chipper often describes a cheerful attitude that is very outward and obvious. People who are chipper are lively, sprightly, cheerful, and sunny. They’ve got a smile on their face and pep in their step, and they love to chipper away with other chipper people. A person who’s chipper in the morning is often called a morning person. People who aren’t morning people often get annoyed by morning people, and, similarly, people who aren’t in a good mood may not appreciate how outwardly cheerful a chipper person is being. For that reason, the word chipper is sometimes used in a slightly negative way to imply that someone’s cheerfulness is … a bit much.

Chipper should not be confused with the slang term chippy, which means just about the opposite: irritable or ill-tempered, or, when applied to a sports game, characterized by rough, aggressive play.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to chipper?

  • more chipper (comparative form of the adjective)
  • most chipper (superlative form of the adjective)

What are some synonyms for chipper?

What are some words that share a root or word element with chipper

What are some words that often get used in discussing chipper?


What are some words chipper may be confused with?

How is chipper used in real life?

Chipper is most commonly used as an adjective. Some people may use the word in a slightly negative way to describe a mood that they consider a little too positive. When referring to a woodchipper, the word woodchipper is more commonly used.



Try using chipper!

Is chipper used correctly in the following sentence?

I could tell that my boss was feeling chipper because he kept scowling at customers and yelling at employees.

How to use chipper in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for chipper (1 of 2)

/ (ˈtʃɪpə) /

adjective informal
cheerful; lively
smartly dressed

British Dictionary definitions for chipper (2 of 2)

/ (ˈtʃɪpər) /

Irish and Scot informal a fish-and-chip shop
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