Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I had never heard this phrase, "chock-a-block" until we moved over to the UK and every once in a while it creeps up on it did today.
The first time I heard it, I received an email from a Brit with whom Scott & I were trying to schedule a couple's dinner. The email read:

Hi guys,
OK we are back in one piece and Chocka Block we are at Ascot this weekend so cant make it Friday. Can we set a date for when you return from France?

I remember reading the email and I thought there were words missing or words mis-spelled in here.....I showed it to Scott and he thought it looked like foreign writing as well. So, we googled "Chocka Block" and found the meaning:  (according to
chock-a-block or chock·a·block  (chk-blk)
1. Squeezed together; jammed: The cheering fans were chock-a-block in the stands.
2. Completely filled; stuffed: "I recommend the north shore chowder, chockablock with pieces of seasonal fish" (Charles Monaghan).
3. Nautical Drawn so close as to have the blocks touching. Used of a ship's hoisting tackle.
Chock: a hall that was chock-a-block full.

Chock-A-Block is a phrase used in English language to emphasise an excessive amount of something in one place.

Through more online reading (wikipedia this time), I also discovered this past bit about the phrase in the UK life:

Chock-A-Block was a BBC children's television programme, first shown in 1981 and repeated through to 1989 and shown as part of the children's programme cycle See-Saw (the "new" name for the cycle originally known as Watch with Mother). "Chock-A-Block" was an extremely large yellow computer, modelled to resemble a mainframe of the time; it filled the entire studio and provided the entire backdrop for the show. The presenter of the show supposedly played the part of a technician maintaining the computer; there were two presenters, Fred Harris ("Chock-A-Bloke") and Carol Leader ("Chock-A-Girl"), but only one appeared in each episode. At the start of the show, they would drive around the studio towards the machine in a small yellow electric car(with the catchphrase "Chock-A-Bloke (or Girl), checking in!").

Today the phrase crept up on me again during multiple traffic reports. After hearing the word mentioned during the 20 traffic updates during my TWO AND A HALF HOUR drive to work this morning, in the blizzard conditions, I can attest that the reports were correct. My traffic was too, chockablock the entire route to work! Or, as it is said in the US, it was gridlock the entire way....

Just another word for you to add to your vocabulary if it's not there already....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've definitly heard (and probably used) the phrase
'chock full' in the states before. So maybe we just
use a shorter version with a slightly different connotation?

It still cracks me up when my husband says he's going to whack the eggs in the pan or whack the lights on.