Make Your Editor Cry: Chalk Full vs. Chock-Full

Make Your Editor Cry:  Chalk Full vs. Chock-Full

People of a certain age remember chalkboards. Today, you may have a passing familiarity with sidewalk chalk. Regardless, chalk full (or chalk-full) is not a thing.

Here is the actual etymology of this idiom. In modern day Britain, “cheek” describes behavior or talk that is disrespectful or rude.

Example:

My shift lead told me off for being two minutes late when he arrived half an hour after me. What a cheek!

The word “chock” is an Old English word that means “cheek” as well as “full to the brim.” In other words, “chock-full” means a “mouthful.”

The correct phrase is “chock-full.”

Incorrect:

The classroom was chalk-full of students.

Correct:

We stayed with friends because the hotels were chock-full of tourists that weekend.

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