Thursday, October 14, 2004

Word of the day - Chisler

I was watching Gangs of New York tonight and there was a scene where Leonardo DeCaprio gets in a fight with another character. The other character (I started watching in the middle, so I don't know what his name was) calls Leonardo something or other that Leo had never heard. Leo goes:

I don't know what that means, so I don't know if I should be insulted or not. Now if you had called me a Chisler, then we would have business. Are you calling me a Chisler?


What the heck is a chisler? Google couldn't tell me exactly, I suppose because it is period slang.

According to a Dublin slang site, it is a 'Child or Boy'.
According to a Brooklyn slang site, it is synonymous with cheat (it's actually used in the definition of Skive).

Either could apply, since Gangs of New York is obviously set in New York, and Leonardo's character is young and Irish.

So I'll go with Chisler being a young cheat.

I bet you can't work it into conversation tomorrow.

[ Update: Sarah pointed out that according to her fancy editor's dictionary 'to chisel someone' means "to swindle or obtain by swindling; cheat.". ]

14 comments:

wleino said...

I hope someone crosses me today so that I can use it.

McBrideFarm said...

According to my dictionary here to chisel someone also informally means "to swindle or obtain by swindling; cheat." You are correct, sir! Of course it can also mean "to shape or cut with a chisel." Perhaps the dig was meant to imply that Leo was nothing more than a manual laborer who chisels all day. That type of comment would really get my blood pumpin'.

Anonymous said...

When gold coin was the most common currency in the land, a "chisler" would keep a little bit of every coin that passed by his hands. In this way, no coins would be spent, but the crooks would make a lot of pure profit. The dirty chislers!

fred said...

I have just googled the word 'chisler' in order to find something funny to send to a friend and found this site - Brilliant. Me and my friend Graham also picked up the term from Gangs of New York and, despite not knowing the true meaning, loved it. We now use it regularly when someone has done or said something that they clearly shouldnt and deserve to be branded accordingly. Damn Chisler's!

Anonymous said...

Loud applause to the above comment... this word should be used more often when abusing the idiots. Good work Fred!

Jonny said...

its an old dublin slang word meaning kid or child, normally said by an adult to the perant, like i seen your chisellers down the road, brendan ocarrol has book call chisellers

damagedlemon said...

uhm ehr it might be worth noticing that the song "our velocity" form british band maximo park opens with the lines "i'm not a man, i'm a machine, chisel me down until i am clean"...and i think the meaning here is something close to what 8/12/06 anonymous said...

try the song in any case, it is worth

good giggidy everybody

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (8/12/06) is correct - that's how the word chisler started - to chisle off a bit of gold from
a coin, therefore, being a thief at the same time -per
the History Channel.
MM. 10/2/07

Anonymous said...

I too had this word "chisler" in my head, and needed a definition. I found this site. Whew!
Will Smale, who I used to work with 20 years ago, had a poster in his cube defining a chisler (I forgot the def.), a weasel, and a chiseling weasel, or cheasel. Will demanded "No Cheasels!" I guess he'd been cheaseled a few too many times...

Zarbuck said...

The origins of the word chiseller coming from people who chisel the edges off of gold coins is correct AFAIK. That is why coins today have ridged or otherwise non-smooth edges on them. That way if people did chisel the edge off, the coin is invalid.

Patrick said...

I'd love to see a Depression-era dictionary. Back then there was a wealth of old words (chisler was still used) that have dropped out of fashion that could come in handy again these days. Watch episodes of Bowery Boys, Little Rascals, and maybe even Three Stooges to see what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Bugs Bunny uses it all the time on the old Looney Tunes.

Chisler H. said...

my name is chisler. seriously. not lying

Anonymous said...

chislers are a slang term used for a nuisance small ground type squirrel round these Wyoming parts