Chav: Wikis


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A cartoon of a "chav".

A chav (pronounced /ˈtʃæv/ (CHAV)) is a stereotypical young person in the United Kingdom. The typical "chav"—known also as a charver in Yorkshire and North East England[1]—is said to be an aggressive teenager, typically unemployed or of white working class background,[2] who repeatedly engages in anti-social behaviour,[2] such as street drinking, drug abuse and rowdiness, or other forms of juvenile delinquency.



Chav probably has its origins in the Romani word "chavi", meaning "child"[3] (or "chavo", meaning "boy",[4] or "chavvy", meaning "youth"[5]). This theory is supported by etymologist Michael Quinion.[6] This word may have entered the English language through the Geordie dialect word charva, meaning a rough child.[7] This is similar to the colloquial Spanish word chaval, meaning "kid" or "guy".[4][8]

The derivative Chavette has been used to describe his female counterpart.

The Oxford University Press has said that the word is "generally thought to come from Chatham girls",[4] and Michael Quinion says that that is "where the term is best known and probably originated".[6]

Many folk etymologies have sprung up around the word. These include the backronym "Council Housed And Violent",[1] and the suggestion that pupils at Cheltenham Ladies' College and Cheltenham College used the word to describe the young men of the town ("Cheltenham Average").[9] However, Michael Quinion has said that "we must treat supposed acronymic origins with the greatest suspicion; these examples are definitely recent after-the-event inventions as attempts to explain the word, though very widely known and believed."[6]

In the 1990s and early 2000s, prior to the increased interest in chav culture, the people we today know as a 'chavs' were referred to with a large variety of dialect words, recorded by research done in 2002.[10] By 2005, media references to 'chavs' had spread the word throughout Britain.

Criticism of the stereotype

A BBC TV documentary suggested that "chav" culture is an evolution of previous working-class youth subcultures associated with particular commercial clothing styles, such as mods, skinheads and casuals.[11]

The widespread use of the "chav" stereotype has come in for some criticism. Some argue[12] that it amounts to simple snobbery and elitism,[13] and that serious social problems such as Anti-Social Behaviour, teenage pregnancy, delinquency and underage drinking in low-income areas are not subjects for derision. Critics of the term have argued that its users are "neo-snobs",[14] and that its increasing popularity raises questions about how British society deals with social mobility and class.[2] In a February 2005 article in The Times, Julie Burchill argued that use of the word is a form of "social racism", and that such "sneering" reveals more about the shortcomings of the "chav-haters" than those of their supposed victims.[15] The writer John Harris argued along similar lines in a 2007 article in The Guardian.[16]

Commercial effect

Burberry is a clothing company whose products became associated with the "chav" stereotype. Burberry's appeal to "chav" fashion sense is a sociological example of prole drift, where an up-market product begins to be consumed en masse by a lower socio-economic group. Burberry has argued that the brand's popular association with "chav" fashion sense is linked to counterfeit versions of the clothing. "They’re yesterday's news", stated Stacey Cartwright, the CEO of Burberry. "It was mostly counterfeit, and Britain accounts for less than 10% of our sales anyway."[17]

The company has taken a number of steps to distance itself from the stereotype. It ceased production of its own branded baseball cap in 2004 and has scaled back the use of its trademarked checkered/tartan design to such an extent that it now only appears on the inner linings and other very low-key positions of their clothing.[18][19] It has also taken legal action against high-profile infringements of the brand. In August 2006, a company introducing tuk-tuk vehicles into the south coast city of Brighton, England named one the "Chavrolet", which had it painted in the distinctive Burberry tartan. However, the company soon had to withdraw this vehicle when Burberry threatened proceedings for breach of copyright.[20]

The large supermarket chain Asda has attempted to trademark the word "chav" for a new line of confectionery. A spokeswoman said: "With slogans from characters in shows such as Little Britain and The Catherine Tate Show providing us with more and more contemporary slang, our Whatever sweets — now nicknamed chav hearts — have become very popular with kids and grown-ups alike. We thought we needed to give them some respect and have decided to trademark our sweets."[21]

Characterisation in the media

Response to the stereotype has ranged from amusement to criticism that it is a new manifestation of classism.[13]

By 2004, the word was used in national newspapers and common parlance in the UK. Susie Dent's Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report, published by the Oxford University Press, designated it as the "word of the year"[22] in 2004.[23] A survey in 2005 found that in December 2004 alone 114 British newspaper articles used the word. The popularity of the word has led to the creation of sites devoted to cataloguing and mocking the "chav" lifestyle.

  • The Welsh rap group, Goldie Lookin Chain, have been described as both embodying and satirising the "chav" aesthetic, though the group themselves deny any such agenda, simply making a mockery of the subject.[24] The British car-tuning magazine Max Power once had a beige Mk3 Vauxhall Cavalier stickered to make it look like the Burberry check, named it the "Chavalier" and gave it to the band.
  • In the 2007 film St Trinians the 'Chavs' are depicted as being anti-social bullies.
  • In the 2005 reality TV programme Bad Lads' Army: Officer Class, a number of small time thieves and street brawlers underwent 1950s style National Service Army training to see which of them would be worthy of becoming a British Army officer. The motto of the show was to convert "chavs" into "chaps".[citation needed]
  • In an episode of the revived Doctor Who (episode "New Earth"), antagonist Cassandra takes over the body of Rose Tyler. Cassandra, who considers herself very much a member of the upper class, sees herself in a mirror as the working-class Rose and exclaims in horror, "Oh my God! I'm a chav!"
  • In the channel four drama series Misfits, the character Kelly is a stereotypical Chav and is often referred to as a one.
  • On the Channel Four / G4 TV show Freaky, the magician Michael J. Fitch uses a persona called "The Chav" who dresses in Chav fashion and subverts and ridicules authority figures with cons and tricks.

See also

Further reading

  • Keith Hayward and Majid Yar (2006). "The "chav" phenomenon: Consumption, media and the construction of a new underclass". Crime, Media, Culture 2 (1): 9–28. doi:10.1177/1741659006061708. 



  1. ^ a b Anoop Nayak and Steve Drayton. "To charv or not to charver - that is the question". Inside Out - North East. BBC. Retrieved 2005-02-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d Smith, Alison (2005-06-14). "Media student 'expert on chavs'". BBC News. 
  3. ^ "'Asbo' and 'chav' make dictionary". BBC News. 2005-06-08. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 
  4. ^ a b c "Oxford University Press | chav". Retrieved 2009-11-15. "In Britain there are many words to describe people from this social group, and they are often limited to a particular town or region. Other words with a similar meaning to chav are townie, scally, ned and charver. The word chav has become common in southern England, and is generally thought to come from Chatham girls (Chatham is a town in Kent.) Some people think, however, that the word comes originally from the Romany word chavo (boy), which is also the origin of the Spanish word chaval." 
  5. ^ "Savvy Chavvy: social entrepreneurs engage gypsies". The Telegraph. 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-12-24. ""’Chavvy’ being the old Romany word for ‘youth’"" 
  6. ^ a b c Quinion, Michael. "Chav". Retrieved 2009-02-23. "A writer in the Independent thought [the word chav] derived from the name of the town of Chatham in Kent, where the term is best known and probably originated. It is also commonly said that it's an acronym, either from “Council House And Violent” or “Cheltenham Average” (the word being widely known in that area). As usual, we must treat supposed acronymic origins with the greatest suspicion; these examples are definitely recent after-the-event inventions as attempts to explain the word, though very widely known and believed. ... Chav is almost certainly from the Romany word for a child, chavi, recorded from the middle of the nineteenth century. We know it was being used as a term of address to an adult man a little later in the century, but it hasn’t often been recorded in print since and its derivative chav is new to most people." 
  7. ^ "Wiktionary - charva". 
  8. ^ Tweedie, Neil (2005-08-10). "Don't be a plank. Read this and get really clueful". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 
  9. ^ Tweedie, Neil (2004-12-13). "Cheltenham ladies and the chavs". Daily Telegraph. 
  10. ^ Bromley, Sarah (2002-12). "In the name of the Charver". Sarah Bromley, Leeds University. 
  11. ^ British Style Genius. BBC. 2008-11-04. No. 5, season 1. 59 minutes in.
  12. ^ Hampson, Tom (2008-07-15). "Ban the Word Chav". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ a b John, Harris (2006-04-11). "Bottom of the Class". The Guardian.,,1751272,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  14. ^ Bennett, Oliver (2004-01-28). "Sneer nation". The Independent. 
  15. ^ Burchill, Julie (2005-02-18). "Yeah but, no but, why I'm proud to be a chav". London: The Times.,,7-1488120,00.html. 
  16. ^ Harris, John (2007-03-06). "So now we've finally got our very own 'white trash'". The Guardian.,,2027396,00.html. 
  17. ^ King, Ian (2005-01-12). "Burberry not chavin' it". The Sun. 
  18. ^ "The £16m woman takes on Burberry". London: The Times.,,9065-1827255,00.html. 
  19. ^ "Check out the height of ferret fashion. Burberry has". The Telegraph. 
  20. ^ Kwintner, Adrian (13 September 2006). ""Burberry drives tuk-tuk off road"". Brighton & Hove Argus. Retrieved 18 September 2006. 
  21. ^ "Asda tries to trade mark "chav"". AOL NEWS. 
  22. ^ Noel-Tod, Jeremy (2005-04-03). "Colourful whitewash". London: The Times Literary Supplement.,,25348-1888521,00.html. Retrieved 2007-05-30. 
  23. ^ "AskOxford: Larpers and Shroomers: the Language Report". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2006-03-04. 
  24. ^ "Goldie Lookin' Chain: Chain reaction". The Independent. 2004-08-13. 
  25. ^ Wheeler, Brian (2005-06-30). "Leave chavs alone, say MPs". BBC News. 
  26. ^ Patrick, Guy (2005). "Chav a merry Xmas, Roo". The Sun.,,2-2005570777,00.html. 
  27. ^ Davis, Johnny (2006-04-15). "Lady Sovereign: The country's fourth biggest chav". The Independent. 
  28. ^ Byrnes, Sholto (2005-09-11). "Say cheese! Camilla and the Queen of Chav enjoy two right royal". The Independent. 
  29. ^ McVeigh, Karen (19 October 2004). "Doff your caps to the chavs ...they're THE word of 2004". Archived from the original on 2008-01-07. Retrieved 2009-09-21. (retrieved at WayBack Machine)
  30. ^ Price, Simon (11 April 2004). "Faux peasants, a faux fascist and five to watch out for...". Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  31. ^ Liddle, Rod (October 22, 2006). "Regrets, they’ve had a few – mainly over not having more sex - Give God His share, Dawkins". London: The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  32. ^ Pearlman, Natasha (2006-10-06). "The Chav Rich List". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  33. ^ "'Chav-free holidays' cause outrage". 2009-01-26. Retrieved 2009-11-15. 
  34. ^ "Queen of chavs: Kate dresses as 'Vicky Pollard' for pal's 80s birthday bash | Mail Online". Retrieved 2009-11-15. 

External links

Simple English

Chav, Charv/Charver (male) and Shav (female) ('ch' pronounced as in chair) are mainly negative slang words in the United Kingdom for a subcultural stereotype of people who wear fashions based on American Hip-hop such as fake gold jewellery and designer clothing, combined with elements of working class British street fashion, which is ironic as chavs rarely have jobs nor are they likely to ever possess a job. Many are either school age or late teens/early twenties and come from a family culture of state benfit claimants. The term first appeared in dictionaries in 2005.[1][2]

The Stereotype of "Chav"

Chav has started to mean a variety of things. Chavs DO NOT wear Burberry, this happened only in the 90s and early 00s. Chavs are narrow-minded and Xenophobic sometimes Racist and, more often than not, not very clever. Chavs also tend to use slang language to appear "cooler".

Chavs are usually associated with petty crime, such as muggings and robbery. Asbo's were introduced to help stop this petty crime.

The Chav Attitude

As well as hating anyone who does not belong to their group, they start fights for pleasure. Emos and Goths are often followed and hurt, usually one Goth or Emo against many more Chavs, simply because they are different. Chav are often arrogant, and always believe that they are right, in fighting or in other matters, and will often refuse to agree to, or even consider, other people's opinions.


  1. "'Asbo' and 'chav' make dictionary". BBC News. 2005-06-08. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 
  2. Tweedie, Neil (2005-08-10). "Don't be a plank. Read this and get really clueful". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2006-09-02. 

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