chap·​fall·​en ˈchap-ˌfȯ-lən How to pronounce chapfallen (audio)
variants or less commonly chopfallen
: having the lower jaw hanging loosely
: cast down in spirit : depressed

Did you know?

Finally: an answer to the age-old question "why the long face?" To be chapfallen is, literally, to have one’s jaw in a fallen or lower position, a physical sign of dejection. The chap in chapfallen is a word that dates back to at least the 16th century. It refers to the fleshy covering of the jaw or to the jaw itself and is often used in the plural, as in "the wolf licked its chaps." If that phrase doesn’t seem quite right to you, it’s likely because you are more familiar with chops, an alteration of chaps that is also used to refer to the jaw or the mouth. Accordingly, a variant spelling of chapfallen is chopfallen, which may help us to better understand this somewhat unusual word.

Word History

First Known Use

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chapfallen was in 1597


Dictionary Entries Near chapfallen

Cite this Entry

“Chapfallen.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2024.

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