and ancient Chinese
name for chop-sticks
, meaning help
, since the utensils assisted in getting the food from your dish to your mouth. However, the Chinese eventually replaced this name with a term that sounded similar, but seemed to better describe the motion of the chop-sticks: k'wai-tsze
, meaning the quick ones
. British sailors, returning from voyages to the Orient in the late seventeenth century, rendered this unfamiliar term into English as chop
and then combined it with stick
to create the word chop-stick. More than two centuries later, the Chinese k'wai
, meaning quick
, was again rendered into English in the phrase chop chop
, meaning quick quick
or, more idiomatically, make it snappy
The chop in chop suey, however, derives from a completely different Chinese source: the Cantonese shap sui, meaning bits and pieces This dish did not originate in China but rather on the west coast of the United States where it was invented by Chinese immigrants engaged in building railroads.
- From Cupboard Love: A Dictionary of Culinary Curiosities.
By the way, Japanese chop-sticks, called hashi have tapered ends. Chinese chop-sticks have blunt ends.