DYK: Chew the fat – where did this idiom come from?

DYK: Did you know?

Chew the Fat -Today this means to have a long friendly conversation with someone.

This idiom has several possible sources as listed below. It is not clear which one is accurate.

  • Sailors, while of resting and conversing would chew on salt-hardened fat.
  • It has been speculated that the phrase may come from women chatting while sewing.
  • It has even been suggested that the phrase is derived from a practice by North American Indians of chewing animal hides during their spare time.women sewing

One source that recently circulated on the web was:

When company came over, in the 1500’s they would bring out some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man “could really bring home the bacon.” They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.

This source has largely been considered false.



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