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late 13c., cheterlingis "entrails, souse" (early 13c. in surnames), origins obscure, but probably from an unrecorded Old English word having something to do with entrails (related to Old English cwið "womb;" cf. German Kutteln "guts, bowels, tripe, chitterlings," Gothic qiþus "womb"). Variants chitlins (1842) and chitlings (1880) both also had a sense of "shreds, tatters."
"While I was in this way rollin' in clover, by picturin' what was to be, they wur tarin' my character all to chitlins up at home." [John S. Robb, "Streaks of Squatter Life," Philadelphia, 1843]