dorsetgirl (dorsetgirl) wrote in linguaphiles,

Meaning of "cheer for chalk" in ?American? English

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Can anyone explain what the phrase "cheer for chalk" means?

I saw it (as "but people don't cheer for chalk") here in a tennis article at www.forbes.com and I can't work out from the context what on earth it means.

I tried googling "cheer for chalk" and only got three hits, including the one above. The word "chalk" itself seems to have some sports-jargon meaning that I can't guess at - one result included the sentence "There is the potential of classic match-ups as long as chalk begins to grab the bracket and guide it towards destiny" which, seriously, couldn't make less sense to me if it were in Basque or Sanskrit.

So is this a sports term (and if so which sport?) Are speakers of British English familiar with the term from a particular sport? Or is it a common phrase in American English?
Tags: american english
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  • 9 comments

thekumquat

July 20 2014, 13:30:35 UTC 4 months ago

I'm not familiar with the idiom, but I think it's referring to names of contenders being chalked up on a board - the idea being you don't get a cheer just from being there.
Before reading the article I'd have guessed it was referring to getting a ball on the line (done in chalk) and not being enough to get a point.

dorsetgirl

July 20 2014, 13:40:44 UTC 4 months ago

OK, that makes some kind of sense - thanks!

getting a ball on the line ... not being enough to get a point.

But in tennis hitting the line is counted as "in" and therefore is good enough to get a point. I don't know anything about other sports, though.

dustthouart

July 20 2014, 15:37:07 UTC 4 months ago

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chalk

It appears to be gambling slang for the favorite.

dorsetgirl

July 20 2014, 16:13:12 UTC 4 months ago

Thanks! I did look there, but it seems to me that some entries there simply have to be just made up, so I never know whether to believe it.

dustthouart

July 20 2014, 18:09:44 UTC 4 months ago Edited:  July 20 2014, 18:10:34 UTC

It appears at least in the Forbes link that it's the intended meaning, as the contrast is between "cheering for chalk" and cheering for the wild card--"the favorite" seems to be the most obvious alternative to the underdog.

I'm American living in Canada and I have never heard it before, though, I should say. But I'm not into sports betting at all, and I only watch one sport (ice hockey).

sollersuk

July 20 2014, 15:49:07 UTC 4 months ago

Never heard of it ( Brit)

dorsetgirl

July 20 2014, 16:11:31 UTC 4 months ago

Thanks - I'm never sure whether it's just me!

teaoli

July 21 2014, 18:31:04 UTC 4 months ago

I've (American) never heard it before, either. Interesting new (to me) phrase, though!

lizvogel

July 24 2014, 17:19:14 UTC 4 months ago

It's definitely not common American English -- I've never heard it before, and even in context of the article I can only sort of figure out what it means. Perhaps it is a thing in American Tennis English?