chip on one's shoulder

Cultural Dictionary

chip on one's shoulder definition

A belligerent attitude or grievance: “Joe really has a chip on his shoulder; every time I say something to him, he takes it the wrong way.” In the past, a young boy would place a wood chip on his shoulder and dare anyone to knock it off as a way of showing how tough he was.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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