As different as Chalk And Cheese

Meanings of “As different as Chalk and Cheese”

The phrase “chalk and cheese” means two things that are entirely different from each other. The phrase is used to talk about contradictory things.

Origin of “As different as Chalk and Cheese”

There are numerous examples to indicate the likeness or similarity between two things which is often referred to as Similes. However, there are fewer expressions that exist to show the difference between subjects. The phrase “chalk and cheese” is stated to have been cited by John Grower in his book in Confessio Amantis published way back in 1390 where it goes thus; “Lo, how they feignen chalk for chese.” Since then, it has been used in almost the same meanings except the standardization of its spellings.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Chalk and Cheese by Angela Wybrow

Around Camden Market, there’s a lively pace,
But, just minutes away, there’s a different place.
It’s as though you have entered another world:
A whole new kingdom is suddenly unfurled.

There, you’ll discover tranquility and peace;
Life’s hustle and bustle will suddenly cease.
It’s a peaceful haven: a welcome oasis of calm;
It’s a really special place, packed full of charm.

It was a warm, sunny day – perfect for walking;
On the benches, people sat reading, or just talking.
Along the canal, painted narrow-boats cruised;
Further upstream, people were paddling canoes.

Ducks and moorhens were dotted here and there.
At a Friesian cow sculpture, I stopped and stared.
Wavy patterns decorated the bridges’ undersides.
For cyclists, the towpath made a pleasant ride.

As I passed London Zoo, I heard a waterfall:
Not what I expected to hear in London at all!
I spied some posh villas sitting atop the bank:
No doubt, the residences of the upper ranks.

Further along, the mood was suddenly broken:
It was as though the world had suddenly woken.
I heard the loud rumble of a passenger train,
And, through the sky, there roared a jet plane.

To follow the towpath, I just felt compelled:
Jewels like this, I never knew London held.
One of London’s hidden gems, I uncovered;
This place, I felt so thrilled to have discovered.

This poem presents the picture of her London day where she not only visits the city but also watches the Thames flowing through this city. The contradiction lies in her explanation of how there are villas on one side, animals on the other, and she also talks about jets flying in the sky. The title of the poem shows this flaw through the poet’s visit to clarify the meanings. The meanings become clear that a person comes across entirely different things in London.

Example #2

Chalk & Cheese by Jill Tait

There is a little girl
She has a bigger brother
They live in a bungalow
With their Father & Mother

Their house is by the beach
Dad goes fishing everyday
They are lucky to live there
Many people do say

Melanie & Michael
Both walk to the school
She is very bright
But he is like a fool

He just doesnt care
So he never ever trys
& Unlike his sister
He can’t help telling lies

Poor Melanie, she has an awful life
Her brother drives her round the bend
He is so full of strife

He gets into mischief
& coz he tells lies
His sister gets the blame
It is such a shame

The poem is written in new colloquial English and describes a man and his sister in their calm and comfortable life. However, there is a hell of a difference between both of them. This is evident when the sister advises her brother to be nice so that the people would love and trust him. Although the poet expects that it would happen, it seems that the differences will continue. The title of the poem shows this difference which is natural and goes deeper. Therefore, the phrase has various shades of meanings, implying that it has been used connotatively.

Example #3

Together as I by Mezzo

A miracle of sorts that’s what we were different as chalk and cheese yet one in spirit. We’ve done it way back in ‘94Lines stretching from the Cape The phrase has been used in this stanza of a song. The context of the use of this phrase is that the singer and his friend are two very different individuals and the singer has compared both of them to chalk and cheese. He however clarifies that they were always one in the spirit which helped them achieve something in the year 1994. The phrase has been used as a simile.

Example #4

From Conflict by Martin Jones, Dr Martin Jones, and Andrew Fabian

In addition, the features that define the average male and female mind are not like chalk and cheese. The average male and female mind contains both chalk and cheese, as it were. The differences are subtle, and are to do with the relative proportions of chalk and cheese in the typical male and female mind. Fear not. I will get away from this metaphor quite soon, and define the qualities that we can quantify. But it does mean that because the male mind is not all chalk, and the female mind all cheese, the two sexes are not destined to be mystified by the other.

The authors explain the difference between male and female minds by using this phrase to show this difference. The phrase has been repeated three times to show that despite the subtlety of the difference between the mind of a male and female, they do not show similarities. The phrase has been used in a metaphorical sense.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “The husband and wife are as different as chalk and cheese but maybe that’s why they say that the opposites attract.”

Example #2: “Emily and Erica have been best friends for 19 years, yet they are the best example of being as different as chalk and cheese.”

Example #3: “He is like a mouse, timid and shy and she is like a lion, brave and loud. Raised in the same house but as different as chalk and cheese.”

Example #4: “It is a wonder they didn’t kill each other although they are as different as chalk and cheese, maybe it is because of how incredibly patient they both are.”

Example #5: “When the teacher started explaining the phrase “as different as chalk and cheese”, he made Ana and Joe stand up as the perfect example for the phrase.”