- The word "chow" means "stuff to eat." It is very informal, and used most often in a derogatory or humorous sense.
It is tempting to think that the origin of this word may be from the French phrase "tiaout! tiaout!" (pronounced "chaow") which was used by hunters during the time of Louis XV. The huntsmen would use this cry when they threw a dead stag to their hungry hounds.
According to H. L. Mencken, "The word "chow" is traced by the DA (Dictionary of Americanisms) to 1856, in a Sacramento paper.
The French Revolution and the age of Napoleon: One-Volume Edition, C. Harold King, Arthur J. May and Arnold Fletcher, 1969, Charles Scribner and Sons.
The American Language, Mencken, H. L. Chapter "Loan Words and Non-English Influences", pp. 197.