chinless wonder

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

The term is derived from the characteristic recessive chin of some aristocrats, popularly thought to be caused by inbreeding and associated with limited intelligence,[1] and from the idea of a robust chin being an indication of masculinity. The use of 'wonder' is ironic.

Noun[edit]

chinless wonder (plural chinless wonders)

  1. (UK, derogatory) An ineffectual upper-class male, typically dim-witted and with a weak or indecisive character, frequently one who gained his position via nepotism or other social connections.
    1948, volume 31, page 18: 
    This was probably the most insufferable social event of a very dull season. The bride blushingly gave her age as forty-two, but the old battle-axe could have been an eye-witness to the San Francisco Fire. At long last, little Dagmar's folks have got her married off to Morty, the chinless wonder. He couldn't hold down a job as grocery clerk, and will be manager of father-in-law's wholesale grocery firm.
    1967, The Assistant Librarian, volume 60–61, page 24: 
    She is thin, starved to near perfection [] He, a chinless wonder, a credit to Carnaby Street; they stand hand in hand before the enquiry desk
    1979, The Spectator, volume 243, number 1, page 25: 
    [Actor] John Harding personified the idle spirit of the times as a tennis-possessed chinless wonder.

Usage notes[edit]

The 'wonder' part of the term may be replaced with an offensive word to greaten the insult.

Synonyms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "chinless", Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms, 2009