Most times we hear the idiom that someone has a chip on the shoulder but what does it mean for a person to have a chip on the shoulder?
A person has a chip on the shoulder when they are sensitive about something that happened in the past.
When a person has a chip on the shoulder, he/she is easily offended because they believe they were treated unfairly. The memory makes them angry anytime it is mentioned or comes to mind.
For instance, when an office worker gets passed over for a deserving promotion, he/she is bound to have an unpleasant attitude. The person is then said to have a chip on the shoulder.
20 Similar Phrases to Chip on Shoulder
- To be aggressive.
- Being unfriendly.
- Have a fight.
- Being belligerent.
- Having an unpleasant attitude.
- Being fiercely annoyed.
- Being extremely antagonized.
- To be irritable.
- To be annoyed about…
- To be truculent.
- To be disagreeable.
- To have an acidic attitude.
- To be grumpy about…
- Being surly
- Having a testy attitude.
- To be petulant over…
- To be grouchy.
- To be outrightly rude.
- To be irascible.
- Being hyperaggressive.
To be aggressive
There is a likelihood that a person who has a chip on the shoulder will be aggressive. This is because there is something he/she is not happy about which will affect his/her mood.
That chip makes them behave in a threatening way, especially towards those they perceive are responsible for the bad situation they find themselves in.
A chip on the shoulder can cause a person to become unfriendly and easily irritated especially towards the person who stands or stands in his/her way to get what he/she wants.
When someone is unfriendly, they are likely to have an unwelcoming attitude towards another person. They will not be kind or pleasant to that person especially if they blame the person for the bad things that happened.
Have a fight
Another good way to use the idiom Chip on the shoulder is to use the expression Have a fight. To have a fight in you is to be ready for any type of confrontation.
For a person to have a chip on the shoulder, they are out for blood and ready for any type of challenge. This is because they already have a sour mood and also feel the need to fight for themselves.
Another phrase that is quite similar to the statement Chip on the shoulder is Being belligerent. When a person is belligerent, they are both unfriendly and aggressive.
Such a combination can be quite corrosive cause it shows the person is ready to stir up trouble. For instance, if a person’s marriage threatens to break because of a rumor started by another person, he/she will be belligerent towards the whisperer.
Having an unpleasant attitude
An alternate way to say Chip on the shoulder can be Having an unpleasant attitude. If a person has a chip on the shoulder they will definitely be unkind and impolite to the person(s) who they believe treated them unfairly.
A person with an unpleasant attitude will behave in such an unfriendly manner towards someone else that will make the person not feel comfortable around him/her.
Being fiercely annoyed
Another way to say that a person has a Chip on the shoulder is to say that he/she is Being fiercely annoyed. When a person is merely annoyed, he/she will be slightly angry about something.
However, when the extent of the annoyance is fierce, he/she will not only be angry but will behave in an aggressive or violent way that may be frightening.
Being extremely antagonized
Another alternate way to say that a person has a Chip on his/her shoulder is to say that he/she is Being extremely antagonized. When a person is antagonized, it means that someone has done something to make him/her angry with them.
The word extremely shows the extent to which the annoyance has gotten. This means that when a person is extremely antagonized, he/she has been annoyed to a very high degree by someone else.
To be irritable
Another way that you can say that someone has a Chip on the shoulder is to say that they’re being irritable. When someone is easily annoyed, he/she can be said to have a chip on the shoulder.
The person or situation responsible for his/her irritation may be close by. For instance, it could be that your parents stopped you from going on the school trip as punishment hence causing you to have a chip on the shoulder towards them.
Another instance where a person can be irritable because of a chip on the shoulder is when they lose something or someone extremely valuable because of the carelessness of someone else. It could be the death of their loved one or the bankruptcy or loss of a business.
To be annoyed about…
When someone has a chip on the shoulder, they are usually annoyed about something. For instance, if a woman loses her baby because of someone’s carelessness, whenever she sees the person she will always be annoyed.
That memory will become a chip on the shoulder and will always vex the person when it comes to remembrance. Another instance is when a boss loss goes bankrupt and loses his/her business due to mismanagement from staff.
To be truculent
Another way to say that someone has a chip on the shoulder is to say that they are being truculent. A truculent person tends to be easily angry or to argue a lot.
That is to say, a truculent person is disagreeable and in extreme cases is slightly aggressive. The unresolved memory from the past leads to built-up resentment thus making them irritable.
If the person did not have an argumentative attitude before the situation happened, then the situation can be blamed for his/her disagreeable attitude.
To be disagreeable
A person who has a chip on his/her shoulder can become disagreeable. When someone is disagreeable, he/she behaves in a way that is not nice or pleasant.
Depending on the extent of the offence, he/she may tend to be rude or unfriendly, especially towards the people who are responsible for the bad situation.
If someone is being disagreeable with something unserious, he/she may be called childish. However, where the situation is quite serious, then he/she is considered to have a chip on the shoulder.
To have an acidic attitude
Another way to know a person who has a chip on the shoulder is that they tend to have an acidic attitude. A person with an acidic attitude has a very bitter sharp behavior towards someone else.
The acidic attitude lets the other person know that you are not happy with them probably because of what they have done to you in the past. They will perceive that you blame them for whatever happened.
To be grumpy about…
A person who is grumpy about a past issue can also be said to have a chip on the shoulder. Someone who is grumpy about a past issue gets easily upset when that issue is mentioned.
In this case, it’s just the memory of that situation that gets them worked up. The solution to this is to avoid talking about it all or putting the person in a situation that will make them remember.
For instance, a person can say – He/she is grumpy about being demoted despite his/her devotion to the Company; he/she blames Mike for getting him disqualified.
A person who has a chip on the shoulder tends to be surly towards another person. A surly person has an unfriendly and/or rude attitude towards the person who is responsible for their past misfortune.
For instance, teenagers tend to be surly towards their parents when things don’t go their way. Having a chip on the shoulder towards their parents, they then tend to act out a lot.
It is a sensitive age for both the parents and the teenager. To get rid of that ‘chip’, there has to be communication between the two. Sometimes, the parents will have to be firm regardless while the teenager goes for therapy to talk about their feelings.
Having a testy attitude
Another way to know that a person has a chip on their shoulder is that they will have a testy attitude towards the other person. A person with a testy attitude is easily irritated or annoyed.
Whenever the topic is raised and it brings back painful memories, the person’s mood will change, and he/she will then become annoyed or irritated at the person who mentioned it or the person who caused the pain.
To be petulant over…
A person who has a chip on the shoulder tends to be petulant when they remember the bad situation they were once in. The bad situation could be that they didn’t get what they had always wanted or believed they deserved.
When someone is petulant, they behave in an angry or sulky way i.e., they will be in a bad mood and may refuse to speak with anyone because they are angry about that particular past situation.
To be grouchy
If you seek another way to say that someone has a chip on their shoulder, you can say that they are being grouchy. A grouchy person adopts a surly attitude, is easily annoyed and complains a lot.
Some people view a grouchy person as a bad-tempered person; however, it may be a temporary occurrence caused by a particular person or a past event.
This shows that there is actually a cure to the person’s grouchy attitude which would be to not talk about the situation or to simply avoid the person that brings the bad memories.
To be outrightly rude
Someone who has a chip on the shoulder will definitely be rude to the person who he/she holds responsible for a bad event even though it may be in the past.
Perhaps the consequence of that event is still felt by him/her hence he/she can’t easily let go. When that happens, the person will be open and direct about his/her confrontation and rude attitude.
To be irascible
While it is true that an irascible person has the tendency to get angry or irritable easily, it may not be a permanent attitude. That is to say, something may have caused the person to adopt such an attitude.
If someone appears to be easily provoked by something or someone, it may be that the person is linked to something bad that happened to them hence the bad-tempered attitude.
For instance, someone’s irascibility may grow as the situation escalates or may just maintain a certain high degree depending on how bad the situation was.
Another thing that can symbolize a person who has a chip on the shoulder is being hyperaggressive. Usually, the person would have been simply aggressive, but the situation may heighten the person’s aggressiveness.
For instance, it could be said that a person – He/she is hyperaggressive because she was fired based on false accusations. From this example, we can see that the person not only lost his/her source of living but that his/her reputation has been soiled.
Such a person will have his/her aggressiveness heightened because a lot has been taken from him/her. The memory could be the chip in the shoulder that will get the person angry anytime he/she remembers it.
To end with,
Now that we have come to the end of different ways a person can say chip on the shoulder, feel free to add them to your vocabulary. You must note that each alternative phrase depends on the severity of the situation.
That is to say, it suits each situation depending on what it is. This list will aid you in expressing yourself more clearly especially if you use each phrase in the situation that suits them correctly.