I have a chip on both shoulders

English translation: being 'balanced' by having not just one peculiarity

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:having a chip on both shoulders
English translation:being 'balanced' by having not just one peculiarity
Entered by: Dan Dascalescu

08:21 Apr 30, 2005
English to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Linguistics / Expressions
English term or phrase: I have a chip on both shoulders
"Despite my privileged upbringing, I'm quite well-balanced. I have a chip on both shoulders." - Russel Crowe in "A Beautiful Mind"
Dan Dascalescu
United States
Local time: 20:48
Comment
Explanation:
To have a chip on the shoulder is to have a sensitivity or weakness - often used to mean a bit of an inferiority complex - i.e. someone with a chip on his shoulder isn't a completely balanced personality (but then who is?). The writer is saying humorously that he has a chip on both shoulders and therefore IS a well-balanced person.
Selected response from:

Armorel Young
Local time: 04:48
Grading comment
Thanks everyone!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
4 +9Comment
Armorel Young
5 +4I am (doubly) resentful
David Moore
5 +4I am touchy or embittered. (not for grading)
Ali Beikian
5 +1I don't have just one weakness/ disadvantage/ problem...
juvera
4 +1Yet again....
John Bowden
4Yet again....
John Bowden


  

Answers


7 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +9
i have a chip on both shoulders
Comment


Explanation:
To have a chip on the shoulder is to have a sensitivity or weakness - often used to mean a bit of an inferiority complex - i.e. someone with a chip on his shoulder isn't a completely balanced personality (but then who is?). The writer is saying humorously that he has a chip on both shoulders and therefore IS a well-balanced person.

Armorel Young
Local time: 04:48
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 52
Grading comment
Thanks everyone!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M
5 mins

agree  Derek Gill Franßen
53 mins

agree  ENGSOL: nice explanation, Armorel :-)
2 hrs

agree  Krisztina Lelik
3 hrs

agree  Francina
4 hrs

agree  Jonathan MacKerron
4 hrs

agree  Amy Williams
4 hrs

agree  Shane London: Yes. Well explained.
5 hrs

disagree  David Moore: Sorry, Armorel, I cannot agree here; this is far off the beam, IMO. Try googling "chip on the shoulder"....
6 hrs

disagree  Refugio: In the US, where the term originated, it doesn't mean to have sensitivity, weakness or an inferiority complex. On the contrary, it means one is looking for trouble or a recreational fight.
7 hrs
  -> you're perfectly right that that is the original meaning - as though you had a chip of wood on your shoulder you were daring others to knock off - but it now tends to get used in the sense of bearing a grudge, feeling you've been hard done by

agree  Robert Donahue (X): Good explanation here.
7 hrs

agree  John Bowden: Certainly true of UK usage (but may have the US meaning in the film referred to?)
12 hrs

agree  Deborah Shannon: In the film it seems to have the British meaning - see http://moviescreens.tripod.com/abm/ (he's accused of having an inferiority complex)
1 day 10 hrs
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8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
i have a chip on both shoulders
I am touchy or embittered. (not for grading)


Explanation:
have a chip on one's shoulder: be touchy or embittered (from a former US practice of so placing a chip as a challenge to others to knock it off).

---------------------------------------------------------
Excerpted from Oxford Talking Dictionary
Copyright © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ali Beikian
Iran
Local time: 07:18
Native speaker of: Native in Persian (Farsi)Persian (Farsi), Native in Farsi (Persian)Farsi (Persian)

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  David Moore: Why "not for grading", Ali? It's the perfect answer...
6 hrs
  -> Thank you, Sir.

agree  Can Altinbay: With David here.
6 hrs
  -> Thanks a lot.

agree  Refugio: I hope the asker will grade it anyway because this is what it means. It is a humorous comment, of course, making light of one's pugnacious nature.
7 hrs
  -> Thaks a lot.

agree  John Bowden: Touchy and embittered, yes - but that doesn't automatically (in the UK at least) imply Ruth's "pugnacious nature" - US/UK usage again!
12 hrs
  -> Thank you, Sir.
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +4
i have a chip on both shoulders
I am (doubly) resentful


Explanation:
This is the meaning given by the Chambers 21st. Century English dictionary; it doesn't square at all with Armorel's version, IMHO; it is far closer to your other answer, and that's where my points would go. Here is another "American chip":

Questions & Answers: Chip on one's shoulder. What is the origin of 'chip on the shoulder'? ... Jessica Ronaldson in the USA: “I was wondering what the origin of the phrase chip on the shoulder was?” ...
www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-chi1.htm

So it seems that our friend Russel(l?) was a bit of a wit, and had a little joke at his own expense.


David Moore
Local time: 05:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 28

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Refugio: or the character he played did
58 mins

agree  Ali Beikian
4 hrs

agree  NancyLynn
4 hrs

agree  humbird
8 hrs
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7 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
i have a chip on both shoulders
I don't have just one weakness/ disadvantage/ problem...


Explanation:
In England this expression is always used either jokingly or sarcastically. It always means, that s/he is more than one way disatvantaged.
The "well balanced" is a figure of speech, as there may be two things against that person, both shoulders are equally laiden, therefore you could say "balanced". But it doesn't mean a well-balanced person, if anything, the opposite.
"...But who wants to have a chip on both shoulders?"
Definition of a well balanced Spurs fan – A guy with a chip on both shoulders…
"...we were working for Conservative and Labour Ministers – so we’ve got a chip on both shoulders."
"One of my wonderfully witty friends insists he's perfectly balanced as he has a chip on both shoulders!"
... Who put a chip on both your shoulders?
...I had a new boss who was a well-balanced individual-he had a chip on both shoulders and more hangups than your average art gallery...
"You can always tell an Englishman, by the chip on his shoulder. The Irish are much more balanced race, we carry a chip on both shoulders." (Dave Allen)
"Jake is a man with a chip on both shoulders – angry, confused and unanchored."

juvera
Local time: 04:48
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in HungarianHungarian
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  John Bowden: Yes - in UK the emphasis is always on "hangups", "inferiority", "grudge" etc, not "pugnacious nature"/ "looking for a fight" (but the implication in the (US) film may be the US one...)
5 hrs
  -> Thanks.
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
Yet again....


Explanation:
There seems to be a difference between US and UK usage - in the UK, as has been pointed out, the phrase doesn't commonly have its original sense of belligerence, wanting to pick a fight etc - rather, it's used of somebody who feels hard done by, moans about his lot , has a sense of inferiority etc. In the US it may be used more in its "looking for a fight" sense.

"to a have a chip on your shoulder INFORMAL

to seem angry all the time because you think you have been treated unfairly or feel you are not as good as other people:

- "He's got a chip on his shoulder about not having been to university".



    Reference: http://www.freesearch.co.uk/dictionary/have
John Bowden
Local time: 04:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12
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12 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Yet again....


Explanation:
There seems to be a difference between US and UK usage - in the UK, as has been pointed out, the phrase doesn't commonly have its original sense of belligerence, wanting to pick a fight etc - rather, it's used of somebody who feels hard done by, moans about his lot , has a sense of inferiority etc. In the US it may be used more in its "looking for a fight" sense.

"to a have a chip on your shoulder INFORMAL

to seem angry all the time because you think you have been treated unfairly or feel you are not as good as other people:

- "He's got a chip on his shoulder about not having been to university".



    Reference: http://www.freesearch.co.uk/dictionary/have
John Bowden
Local time: 04:48
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 12

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  RHELLER: in the U.S, we would say "he has a chip on his shoulder because he doesn't have a university degree" (pretty close, eh?)
6 days
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