Chinaman's chance


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Chinaman's chance

Little or no chance at all; a completely hopeless prospect. This derogatory phrase originated in the 1800s and referred to Chinese immigrants who worked for extremely low wages, faced racism and higher taxation, and were prohibited from testifying in court for violence committed against them. Primarily heard in US, South Africa.
See also: chance

Chinaman's chance

Also, ghost of a chance. An extremely slim chance, a hopeless undertaking. Both versions are most often put negatively, as in He hasn't a Chinaman's chance of finishing the work in time, or They haven't a ghost of a chance to get as far as the playoffs. The first term, now considered offensive, dates from the late 1800s when many Chinese immigrants came to work in California and were resented because they worked for lower wages. Its precise allusion is unclear. The variant, which relies on the meaning of ghost as an insubstantial shadow, dates from the mid-1800s. Also see the synonyms fat chance; not an earthly chance.
See also: chance

Chinaman's chance

Slim to no possibility. There have been several explanations about the origin of this odious phrase, all arising from Chinese immigrants working in the American West. One is that they were given the most dangerous jobs, such as setting and igniting explosives. Another is that judges and juries routinely convicted Chinese defendants on the flimsiest of evidence. A third is that Chinese miners were allowed to work gold claims only after others had taken the best ore. In any event, “Chinaman's chance” should be relegated to the slag heap.
See also: chance
References in periodicals archive ?
Anand Giridharadas , Columnist, The New York Times; Author, The True American Eric Liu , Founder, Citizen University; Author, A Chinaman's Chance Monica Lozano, Chair of the Board, US Hispanic Media Inc.
San Miguel dropped to 9-7 and out of a tie for second place with idle Rain or Shine, leaving the Beermen with a tough final two assignments in Air21 and Purefoods, with no less than a sweep required for them to even have a Chinaman's chance.
But many died, which brought about the phrase "a Chinaman's chance in hell.
There's some old tasteless cliche, something to do with "A Chinaman's chance in hell," or something, but it would be incorrect -- politically incorrect, in fact -- to use it here.
Anderson, expounding on Chuck Finley's success against the visiting Tigers, said a batter ``didn't have a Chinaman's chance of hitting the ball.