The Meaning of Chav: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of chav? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word chav, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word chav mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word chav is used in England as a slang term for a young person who has a lack of taste or education despite wearing expensive clothes. In America, we might describe this person as tacky or trashy, comparable to ned in Scotland or scanger in Ireland, per Dictionary. A prime example of this in media is Vicky Pollard (Matt Lucas) in Little Britain sketches who wears designer sportswear and other ostentatious clothing but exhibits loutish behavior in a vulgar manner. Some people, like author Owen Jones, believe that the British slang chavvy and chav is middle class hatred of the white working class. He says so in his book Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. This word is also sometimes seen as charger or scally in different parts of England, per BBC.

While the term have is chiefly British and predominantly only used in the United Kingdom, different languages around the world have different words for a child. This word will describe somebody who is from a working-class background and who may have more education. If you are going to travel around the world, learning different slang terms is very important. Every country has different slang terms, so if you want to show that you have studied the language and culture, it is important to know these different words and phrases. The below list of translations of the word chav is provided by Word Sense

  •  Polish: dresiarz‎ (masc.), dres‎ (masc.)
  •  German: Asi‎ (masc.)
  •  Italian: tamarro‎ (masc.), zingaro‎ (masc.), coatto‎ (masc.), scugnizzo‎ (masc.)
  •  French: racaille‎ (fem.), cacou‎ (masc.)
  •  Spanish: flaite‎ (masc.) (slang, Chile), cani‎ (masc.) (Spain)

What is the origin of chav?

According to Birmingham and Etymonline, the word chav .This may come from the Romani term chavi, which means child, or Romani boy, or chavo, which means unmarried Romani man. It may also originate from the Sanskrit śāva and Middle Indic chāva. People also think that it could derive from the name of the town of Chatham, in Kent, in the phrase “Chatham average” or Cheltenham in Gloucestershire. Some assert that it originated as an acronym for “council house and violent” but it is believed that this is a “backronym.” This implies an aggression to the lifestyle of the chav. Nobody knows the exact origin of the term. This term has been used in British slang since 2004, but the term charger has been used since 1997. 

How can the word chav be used in a sentence?

The word chav can be used in many different sentences in the English language. Remember, this word can be considered offensive and is predominantly only used in British English, so use this word carefully. Below are a couple of examples of the term chav.

Did you see that chav at the disco? The lack of self awareness is embarrassing.

Ugh, am I wearing too much makeup? I feel like I look like a chav.

A Juicy track suit in 2021? Chavvy.

What are synonyms and antonyms for the term chav?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the term chav. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same or a similar definition as another given word or phrase. This is a great way to expand your vocabulary and avoid repeating yourself in spoken or written English. The below list of synonyms for the term chav is provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  yob
  •  charv
  •  roughneck
  •  hoon
  •  oaf
  •  gorilla
  •  bovver boy
  •  barry boy
  •  larrikin
  •  lout
  •  keelie
  •  charva
  •  tough
  •  bopper
  •  clodhopper
  •  gopnik
  •  yobbo
  •  herbert
  •  dobber
  •  yahoo
  •  kev
  •  boor
  •  wigger
  •  hoodlum
  •  benny
  •  lad
  •  brush
  •  hood rat
  •  dumbo
  •  rough
  •  lager lout
  •  gazza
  •  chavster
  •  bazza
  •  ruffian
  •  bogan
  •  thug
  •  rowdy
  •  ned
  •  bully boy
  •  scuffer
  •  hooligan
  •  skanger
  •  hoodie
  •  knacker
  •  bruiser
  •  charver
  •  pikey
  •  bam
  •  mev

There are also numerous different words and phrases that mean the opposite of the term chav. These opposite words are called antonyms, which are another great way to expand your English language vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the term is also provided by Power Thesaurus.

  •  titled woman
  •  upper class
  •  madame
  •  plush
  •  elaborate
  •  upmarket
  •  stately
  •  expensive
  •  showy
  •  blue blood
  •  sumptuous
  •  aggressive person
  •  bluestocking
  •  ambitious person
  •  advantaged person
  •  trendy
  •  ardent person
  •  top person
  •  smart
  •  exclusive
  •  stuffed shirt
  •  brain
  •  genteel
  •  palatial
  •  activist
  •  high-class
  •  big thinker
  •  swanky
  •  brahmin
  •  ambition
  •  de luxe
  •  ritzy
  •  active person
  •  stylish
  •  aggressively enterprising man
  •  imposing
  •  acumen
  •  fine
  •  celebrity
  •  elegant
  •  costly
  •  upper-class
  •  aholic
  •  select
  •  chic
  •  ball of fire
  •  honored person
  •  longhair
  •  swish
  •  snazzy
  •  intellect
  •  luxury
  •  class act
  •  beaver
  •  noblewoman
  •  regal
  •  bootstrapper
  •  upscale
  •  deluxe
  •  titled man
  •  modish
  •  rich
  •  achiever
  •  academician
  •  boffin
  •  splendid
  •  fashionable
  •  fancy
  •  ambitious
  •  aggressively enterprising human
  •  magnificent
  •  boyar
  •  classy
  •  luxurious
  •  assertive person
  •  yappie
  •  bookworm
  •  nobleman
  •  high-toned
  •  swank
  •  aggressively enterprising person
  •  aristocratic person
  •  lavish
  •  bookish person
  •  impressive
  •  genius
  •  aristocrat
  •  extravagant
  •  grand
  •  tony
  •  peer
  •  superior
  •  posh
  •  aristocratic
  •  academic
  •  gentlefolk
  •  titled person
  •  aristo
  •  opulent
  •  dashing
  •  majestic
  •  noble

Overall, the term chav is a disparaging term for the working-class youth. It has become a trend to use the chav stereotype for an uneducated young person with other connotations of a low social status, or who has a poor education. The use of the term as a pejorative epithet is prevalent in mass media in the United Kingdom. This term may come from the Romani chavi or Romani chavo, but is of wholly unknown origin. 

Sources:

  1. Chav | Definition of Chav | Dictionary.com 
  2. Everything you ever wanted to know about the word ‘chav’ | Birmingham 
  3. Why is ‘chav’ still controversial? | BBC 
  4. Chav definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  5. chav | Origin and meaning of chav | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  6. chav: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  7. Chav synonyms – 333 Words and Phrases for Chav | Power Thesaurus 
  8. Posh synonyms – 622 Words and Phrases for Posh | Power Thesaurus