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See also: čhâv


A caricature of a chav.


Origin uncertain; probably of Angloromani origin. Compare Romani chavi (male child) or ćhavo, shavo (female child), chal (boy), chavvy (mate, friend), compare Swedish tjej; possibly cognate with Portuguese chavalo, Spanish chaval, German Chabo, Russian чувак (čuvak), Hungarian csávó. See also charva.

A derivation from "council-housed and violent" is widely regarded as a backronym and folk etymology.



chav (plural chavs)

  1. (UK, MLE, Ireland, derogatory, offensive) A working-class youth, especially one associated with aggression, poor education, and a perceived "common" taste in clothing and lifestyle.
    Synonyms: charva, ned, pikey; see also Thesaurus:chav
    Coordinate term: chavette
    • a. 2009, Dizzee Rascal (lyrics and music), “Creeper (Freestyle)”:
      Lyrical staff / Never could they ever take me for a chav / Scholar in the English, scholar in the Math / Dizzee ain't no riff raff
    • 2011 June 18, “Giving the poor a good kicking”, in The Economist:
      His book concerns ‘chavs’, a supposed underclass of ill-educated, fast-breeding, violent and amoral poor people currently plaguing Britain.

Derived terms


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Further reading