What Does the Expression “When the Chips Are Down” Mean and Where Did the Phrase Originate?

Chips are used as a substitute for money in gambling.

When things aren’t going well a player’s pile of chips dwindles until he loses everything or makes a recovery.

How he acts under this pressure, “when the chips are down,” is an indication of his character.

That is also how secure, relatively high-yielding stocks came to be called blue chips, because in poker, blue chips are more valuable than white or red ones.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment