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[chahy-nuh-muh n] /ˈtʃaɪ nə mən/
noun, plural Chinamen.
Older Use: Usually Offensive. a term used to refer to a Chinese or a person of Chinese descent.
(lowercase) Archaic. a person who imports or sells china.
(often lowercase) Political Slang: Usually Offensive. a person regarded as one's benefactor, sponsor, or protector:
to see one's chinaman about a favor.
a Chinaman's chance, Usually Offensive. the slightest chance:
He hasn't a Chinaman's chance of getting that job.
Origin of Chinaman
1765-75; China + -man
Usage note
Historically, Chinaman was a neutral compound word, similar to Irishman or Englishman, but it began to take on negative connotations in the 19th century, when many Chinese immigrants went to work in the American West. The expression a Chinaman's chance originally made reference to these Chinese laborers, though the exact origin of the phrase is disputed. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for Chinaman
Historical Examples
  • He could hear the Chinaman talking in his bland way to the villains.

  • Bruce was as good a rocker as a Chinaman, and than that there is no higher praise.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart
  • The cue of the Chinaman is equally as acceptable as hairs from the mane of the English lion.

    Buffalo Land W. E. Webb
  • He forgot that he looked like a Chinaman, and that all his crew were similarly disguised.

    The Three Midshipmen W.H.G. Kingston
  • The Chinaman, it appeared later, when he was able to give his tale, had merely feigned to be hit.

    The Hero of Panama F. S. Brereton
  • Days passed on into weeks, and still the hapless Chinaman was workless.

  • The Chinaman did his part acceptably, but the next morning he appeared before his mistress.

  • Her first act when the Chinaman had gone was to lock the door by which she had entered.

    IT and Other Stories Gouverneur Morris
  • The girls are left to their fate, a Chinaman thinking it rather an advantage to lose a daughter or two occasionally.

    A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' Annie Allnut Brassey
  • The Ladrones were paid by their chief ten dollars for every Chinaman's head they produced.

British Dictionary definitions for Chinaman


noun (pl) -men
(archaic or derogatory) a native or inhabitant of China
(often not capital) (cricket) a ball bowled by a left-handed bowler to a right-handed batsman that spins from off to leg
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Chinaman

1711, "native of China," from China + man (n.). Also in 18c., "dealer in china wares" (1728).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for Chinaman



  1. A sailor who works in a ship's laundry (1950s+ Merchant marine)
  2. A police officer's patron and influential political friend; rabbi: police officer needed a Chinaman, or sponsor (1970s+ Police)
The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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