Chinaman's chance

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Originally a reference to the socio-economic prospects of immigrant Chinese labour in the United States in the 19th century, which often involved highly dangerous work on the railroads.


Chinaman's chance (plural Chinamen's chances)

  1. (idiomatic, offensive) No chance; zero possibility.
    • 2005, Richard Corliss, "Anna May Wong Did It Right," Time, 29 Jan.,
      The Chinese, who in the mid-19th century had come to America by the tens of thousands and helped build the transcontinental railway, were on the receiving end of much prejudicial legislation. . . . In the slang wisdom of the day, sojourners from the Middle Kingdom "didn't stand a Chinaman's chance."