Chow Down

Meanings of “Chow Down”

The phrase “chow down” means to sit down to eat something, commonly used in the United States. It is a similar phrase to the one used in England “tuck in” with the same meanings.

 Origin of “Chow Down”

The phrase “chow down” has originated from the Chinese food of “chow miaow” and first occurs in the Spirit of Age. Later, it is stated that that the US soldiers coined this phrase during WWII, but its printed record occurs in The Hammond Times in its publication of 1942 where it goes thus; “Chow down, sir’ a Negro mess attendant in a white coat informed…”. Since then, it has been used in the same sense.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Chow Down – Lincoln Park Zoo by Ima Ryma

Animals can be classified
By the types of foods each do eat.
The members of a lion pride
Are carnivores cuz they eat meat.
And herbivores only eat plants
With mouth parts made to rasp and grind,
Like deer who chew that circumstance.
And then there be the humankind
Who are classified omnivore,
Meaning humans eat anything,
And tend to stuff all down galore.
A lot of fast food fattening.

A plant diet gorillas do.
Lettuce munch at Lincoln Park Zoo

This ironic poem by Ima Ryma recounts whatever animal eats and then puts it in contrast to human beings, who are classified “omnivore” but have invented their own foods and ways of eating. The phrase does not occur in the poem. However, it shows its significance as it occurs in the title of the poem. It has been indirectly used in the poem to show that it means to sit down to eat, while human beings eat while moving.

Example #2

Dear Poetry by Jacob Bussard

Sitting and deciding what to eat,
I decided to chow down on some exquisite poetry.
My mom was sitting there looking at her phone and reading about “Rebates”,
So I thought I could interest her tongue with some delicious poetry
For her and I to share
I read her the poem, “If Tomorrow Starts without Me,” by David Romano,
And why my breath finished that last line,
Full and satisfied,
I looked at my mom.

The poem is a story of the poet and his mother that both are recounting something different. Here it appears that both have paid attention to different things; whereas the poet is paying attention to eating and enjoying poetry, his mother is thinking about rebates or discounts for her online shopping. That is why she is not paying attention to his poetic recitation.

Example #3

Chow Down by Tracy Nicole Chapman

He called us slobbering!
Said we were mangy!
Did I hear stupid?
Tell us again– gee
It’s so incredible
That you’re so rude
When you’re so edible
When you are food!
It’s time to chow down
Chow down!
Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chow down
I’m chompin’ at the bit, baby
My stomach’s on the growl, son
Chow down!
Chow down!

The lines start with the singers calling the person’s words rude and yet edible. The singers believe that the person seems to be a food who should be eaten down, sitting in peace. However, when the singers call that person a “baby,” it appears that that the phrase and the lyric have assumed that the words of this person are very amusing. Therefore, they must be enjoyed like food.

Example #4

Chow Down from Slum and Guns: Tales of Marines in the Great War by Wayne A. Pettyjohn

A should of “chow down” meant it was time to eat. During the Great War, however, “chow down” rarely occurred three times a day and food was neither easy to obtain nor did it offer much variety. We were always hungry, but there were several potential options for obtaining a meal. Rolling kitchens provided hot or at least warm food when they were available.

This short excerpt occurs in Slum and Guns by Wayne A. Pettyjohn who has been a marine during WWII. The very first line shows the meanings of this phrase as it was used by the marines when it was time to eat. It means the phrase has been used in its actual meaning. It tells that the soldiers were always hungry and it was very difficult to get a decent and satisfying meal.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “Their father asked them to chow down and have their dinner.”

Example #2: “Whether they want to chow down or not, it entirely depends upon them, though, their commander has ordered them, but it is peacetime. Now they are not bound to his orders.”

Example #3: “Nancy was desperate to chow down her meal in peace, away from her friends.”

Example #4: “The tiger was ready to chow down the deer, but all of sudden her heard a cannon blast and ran away.”

Example #5: When all the soldiers did not hear the lunch call, the general repeated; C’mon you, cows, it’s time to chow down.”