"bargaining chip"

Thu Apr 15 14:48:59 UTC 2004

        It may be true that there is a contemporary association with poker.  Although most of the 567 Google hits have little significance, some do indicate a perceived connection, such as this use in a 4/28/03 article in the Global Beat Syndicate:  "In the past, Pyongyang used its illegal weapons program as a bargaining chip in a high stakes poker game with the West."  But the poker association, like "bargaining chit," appears to a relatively recent development in a term that, as Barry has shown with some remarkable findings, goes back at least to 1941.  If there is any early evidence of bargaining chip=poker, let it be produced.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Stephen Goranson
Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 10:35 AM
Subject: Re: "bargaining chip"

I have no big stake in the origin of the collocation, but I suggest that a
poker-related origin cannot, on evidence so far presented here, be excluded.
After all, it is at least used with "poker" today. Some of the 567 google hits
(for: "bargaining chip" poker)--including Merriam-Webster Dictionary--provide
cases. That's not proof of origin, but if speakers today are comfortable with
the association, earlier speakers at least may have been as well. Also, the
words "up the ante" are, after all, not always, I think, used strictly in
reference to the ante per se. As the term origin has less to do with what we
might think suitable than what happened, I'm open to facing the cards yet to
be dealt.

Stephen Goranson

Quoting "Baker, John" <JMB at STRADLEY.COM>:

>         I think we're at a point where we can make a few observations about
> "bargaining chip":
>         1.      There is no connection with poker.  Poker is not a bargaining
> game, and few if any of the citations refer to or suggest poker in any way.
> {....]

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