dorsetgirl (dorsetgirl) wrote in linguaphiles,

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

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 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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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.
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.

It appears to be gambling slang for the favorite.
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.


July 20 2014, 18:09:44 UTC 1 year 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).
Never heard of it ( Brit)
Thanks - I'm never sure whether it's just me!
I've (American) never heard it before, either. Interesting new (to me) phrase, though!
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?