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a chip on one’s shoulder


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Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) to have a stain on one’s clothes

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b) to appear angry often

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someone who has ‘a chip on their shoulder’, is someone who seems angry all the time because they think they have been treated unfairly or feel they are not as good as other people. It can also be someone who remains upset or holds a grudge about a past event.

French translation

avoir l’air aigri, être amer, avoir mal digéré quelque chose

How NOT to translate : *avoir une frite sur l’épaule

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Examples in context

‘Brompton boss : The bike-maker who disproved the doubters

For Will Butler-Adams, the boss of UK folding bike-maker Brompton, it was being considered stupid as a student that helped drive his determination to be successful in life. "I was pretty much a failure at school," he says. "I was in the thick class, and I had a marginal chip on my shoulder throughout school, which I suppose I still have now."I want to prove that I have been successful [in life]."’

BBC News, 15 July 2013

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I have a massive chip on my shoulder’ : Daniel Radcliffe admits the success of Harry Potter has left him paranoid of failure

’Daniel Radcliffe has revealed he has a ’a massive chip on my shoulder’ because of his role as Harry Potter. The actor, who earned £50m from the film series, said that he was paranoid that nobody would take him seriously as an actor because he was handed success on a plate. Radcliffe said that he worried people would think he just ‘fell into’ being famous when he was given the job at the age of 11 - and did not really deserve it.’

Daily Mail, 3 Oct. 2013

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Everyday usage

So angry at the slightest criticism ? You seem to have a chip on your shoulder.

He still has a chip on his shoulder from the argument we had yesterday, but I hope we can move past this soon.

c) to look guilty

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