Idioms can be confusing to many learners of English because they generally have a figurative meaning rather than making literal sense. In previous posts we have seen how ‘pull somebody’s leg’ means to lie to someone in a friendly way. Similarly, today’s expression Chop-chop would be hard to understand at face value because the word chop has different meanings which includes cutting something into pieces (wood, onions etc).
If you say Chop-chop to someone, you are basically saying ‘Hurry up!. It would be appropriate to use this expression if you are really pressed for time or someone is taking too long to do something important.
1. Chop-chop! We’re going to be late for the concert.
2. Chop-chop! We’ll miss the bus if we don’t leave now.
Our guests will be here soon!
Chop-chop originates from Cantonese kuai-kuai which means quickly. In the 17th century, English speakers (especially sailors) who worked with the Chinese began using this word and distorted the pronunciation to chop-chop .
Theory has it that the word Chopsticks originates from seeing Chinese people eat so quickly with two sticks.
Other ways to say Chop-chop
- Hurry up and finish your meal. Everyone’s waiting for us outside.
- Come on! We’re going to be late, and you know your aunt hates us never being there on time.
- Get a move on or we’ll be late and they won’t let us into the theatre.
- There’s no time to lose if you want to go to the shops and then to the cinema.
- Get/put your skates on or you’ll be late for school.
As always, we strongly encourage you to use idioms if you want to sound more natural in English. Knowledge of idiomatic expressions will also help you better understand native speakers. So, what are yo waiting for? Chop-chop!