Chock-full

By Maeve Maddox

A reader came across the following sentence in an online advertisement for a local homeschool conference:

Enjoy a day chalk full of speakers and vendors while you are there!

She speculated that the misspelling of chalk for chock could have been intentional, given the nature of the conference, but decided that it was just an error and that the writer had intended to invite readers to a day chock-full of speakers and vendors.

The person who wrote the ad probably pronounces chalk /CHAWK/ to rhyme with rock /ROK/.

The expression chock-full means “filled so as to leave no vacant space; cram-full; stuffed full; full to suffocation.”

The expression has been in English with different spellings since the 15th century. Modern dictionaries, such as the OED and Merriam-Webster, give chock-full as the main form and choke-full as a variant.

The Ngram Viewer shows chock-full taking the lead in printed books in the 1830s and choke-full plunging toward flat-lining in the 20th century.

Not always spelled according to the dictionary standard (chock-full), the expression is popular in headlines and articles about various subjects:

Yesterday, NBC announced a schedule that will be chock full of brand new programming.

Those in attendance will get a hands-on preview of Little Orbit’s hot fall lineup chock full of popular franchises including Disney Planes.

The FMC Tower Will Be Chock-Full of 268 AKA Residences

You can tell blueberries are chockfull of antioxidants because of their dark color.

Get ready for a weekend chock-full of Indian River Lagoon water activities 

The new federal budget is chock-full of goodies for pollutocrats

Centuries-Old Shipwreck Chock-Full Of Gold Found Off Finnish Coast

Note: Another misspelling of chock-full is chuck-full:

This November, South Dakota’s ballot will be chuck full of choices.—South Dakota government site.

Click here to get access to 800+ interactive grammar exercises!


Share


7 Responses to “Chock-full”

  • Bill

    And let’s not forget Chock full o’ Nuts, that heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee, heavenly coffee. Chock full o’ Nuts is that heavenly coffee; better coffee a millionaire’s money can’t buy.

  • venqax

    The person who wrote the ad probably pronounces chalk /CHAWK/ to rhyme with rock /ROK/.

    And yet again, therein sits the problem. If not the instigator of the offense, mispronunciation almost surely fuels it. Chalk doesn’t rhyme with rock. It rhymes with talk, and walk, which are also notable for not rhyming with rock. Better speaking leads to better everything.

  • Dan Lafreniere

    Hi Maeve.
    When I was working in the maritime industry the phrase “chock-a-block” was used to describe when our vessel was filled to capacity (conventional cargo level). I haven’t heard it used since!

  • Andy Knoedler

    Bill, you beat me to it. That’s just what I thought of. If it wasn’t for the coffee brand and its jingle, I wouldn’t have known the phrase. Do you remember the personality behind the coffee? The face of what New Yorkers called “Chock fulla” was the famous baseball player Jackie Robinson. Incidentally, old-time radio really had a panoply of splendid tunes. They were so well-done that it was difficult to get them out of your head. I’ll be thinking of the Chock fulla tune all day now.

  • Vivian

    For years I mistakenly thought the term was “chockED full”, and, thankfully, ran across it in written form which set me straight.

  • Maeve

    Dan,
    I grew up familiar with the expression “chock-a-block.” For example, “The auditorium was chock-a-block with people.” I think it was usually followed by a prepositional phrase.

    Apparently the expression originated in a nautical context:
    chock-a-block n. (Naut.) said of a tackle with the two blocks run close together so that they touch each other—the limit of hoisting; transf. jammed or crammed close together; also of a place or person, crammed with, chock-full of.

  • Maeve

    Bill and Andy,
    Chock full o’ Nuts got its name because the man who came up with it sold nuts before he sold coffee. He owned a chain of shops that sold shelled nuts. During the Depression, he converted the nut shops to lunch counters where he sold a sandwich and a cup of coffee for five cents. He kept the name.

Leave a comment: