chapfallen was our Word of the Day on 12/05/2009. Hear the podcast!
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Did You Know?
Chapfallen is also commonly written as "chopfallen," a spelling that may help us to better understand this somewhat unusual word. 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 to quite right to you, it is likely because you are more familiar with "chops," an alteration of "chaps" which is also used to refer to the jaw or the mouth. "Fallen" is the past participle of "fall." Thus, to be "chapfallen" or "chopfallen" is, literally, to have one's jaw in a fallen or lower position.
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