chinless wonder

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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.


chinless wonder (plural chinless wonders)

  1. (Britain, derogatory) An ineffectual upper-class male, typically dim-witted and of a weak or indecisive character, frequently one who gained his position via nepotism or other social connections.
    • 1948, (Please provide the book title or journal name), 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.



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