fat chance

Alexey I. Fuchs c0654038 at TECHST02.TECHNION.AC.IL
Thu Nov 25 18:27:34 UTC 1999

> Do any of you phrase-chaser-downers know the origin of the phrase "fat
> chance"?  I'm wondering if the original usage was ironic, since a "fat
> chance" is really a "slim chance" and since you can only seem to use it
> as an exclamation on its own--well at least according to my intuition.
> I wouldn't say "He had a fat chance of getting there."  I tried to do a
> quick web search for the phrase to see how others use it, but was
> inundated by diet sites and fat farms.
> Lynne, who likes antonyms rather too much

        I would suppose that adding "fat" before chance to indicate that
the chance is small (whereas "fat" is intuitively associated with "big")
could be done to show that the chance is especially easy to escape. In
wrestling, as far as I know, putting fat on one's body is an illegal move
made to the end of slipping out of the rival's grip. Seems like a very
narrow usage, but there are idioms in different languages where "fat" is
related to the idea of escaping or slipping away.


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