To not know what a chav actually is/means?

(71 Posts)
Chocoholism Tue 15-Apr-14 16:31:54

As it says, I first heard this word many years ago and I still don't really know who or what kind if person a chav is? My initial image is the people you mostly see on the Jeremy Kyle show. AIBU or is that right?
Is it now a class or is it a way a person dresses? Apologies if this has been asked before. I haven't debated it ever.

gertiegusset Tue 15-Apr-14 16:32:47


pilates Tue 15-Apr-14 16:35:28


ENormaSnob Tue 15-Apr-14 16:40:08

I always thought it meant more money than taste.

But now there seems to have been a sway towards a nastier meaning. Like jeremy kyle fodder.

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 16:42:19

it is from the Andalucian dialect of spanish, from 'chavale' meaning young boy, used by travelling people, and recently adopted by a wider variety of people to mean 'poorer than us'.
hope that helps.

Aylish1993 Tue 15-Apr-14 16:42:51

I always got told it meant council house and violent. It was supposed to be the same as a townie haha smile

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 16:44:54

no it does not mean 'council housed and violent' or 'cheltenham average' or 'chelsea avenue' or any of that other stuff that is bandied about.
travelling people use 'chavvie' meaning small boy.

It means exactly nothing - because every person you ask will give you a different definition. Making the word meaningless, yet offensive.

Objection Tue 15-Apr-14 16:46:11

Well none of the above apply to how the word chav used where I live. It isn't based on the persons wealth at all.

A chav is someone who is rude, arrogant and obnoxious and dresses in a tacky way.
For example; everything is bedazzled, tracksuit bottoms tucked into Ugg boots as everyday wear.
Pauls Boutique stuff is largely viewed as "chavvy".
Leopard print also can be viewed as such.
Baseball caps under hoods.
Tons and tons of slap.
Huge hoop earrings.
Sports gear when not doing sport.

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 16:47:03

offensive yes.
my son used to get called a 'chav' in about year three (due to his short blonde hair imo) by some really charming floppy haired children.

Hoppinggreen Tue 15-Apr-14 16:50:14

I suppose it's what my Nan would have called " common"

Lj8893 Tue 15-Apr-14 16:54:01

I think there's many meanings of chav.

As an example I would describe Kerry Katona as a chav. Or any of the kids in the film Adulthood.

NigellasDealer Tue 15-Apr-14 16:55:53

let's face it, it is just a modern and more acceptable way of saying 'common as muck'

Lj8893 Tue 15-Apr-14 16:58:14

nigellas spot on!

Sparklingbrook Tue 15-Apr-14 16:58:48

I don't think it means common at all. I think you can do things that can be perceived as chavvy. I am sure my family and i do stuff like that.

It wasn't until MN I realised that people found it very offensive.

arethereanyleftatall Tue 15-Apr-14 17:18:51

A person who is simultaneously arrogant and ignorant.

usualsuspectt Tue 15-Apr-14 17:20:50

It means anyone you want to look down on.

usualsuspectt Tue 15-Apr-14 17:22:55

My DS has been called a chav because we live on a council estate.

Sparklingbrook Tue 15-Apr-14 17:26:04

Does it usual? sad I really didn't think it did. My two DSs look chavvy in their football tops when not playing football but i am not looking down on them IYKWIM.

Watching all the footballers houses on MTV Cribs-some of them are v chavvy-just awful, yet ££££££££s. confused

thought it was more a taste thing?

MrsDeVere Tue 15-Apr-14 17:28:54

Chav : term of abusive used by those who wish to assert their superiority over others.
It has nothing to do with taste, money, behaviour or class.

Unless we are talking about the taste, behaviour and class of the person using it.

Sparklingbrook Tue 15-Apr-14 17:31:19

Ah ok MrsDV. My understanding is a bit off then.

TBH I haven't heard anyone say it in RL for ages, I don't think the DSs say it-I have not heard them if they have.

IHaveAFifthSense Tue 15-Apr-14 17:35:02

Leopard print also can be viewed as such. tick.
Baseball caps under hoods. No, but DP often does.
Tons and tons of slap. tick
Huge hoop earrings. tick
Sports gear when not doing sport. do trainers count? If so, tick.

I have passed the chav test. Where do I collect my certificate?

thebodydoestricks Tue 15-Apr-14 17:41:49

MrsDevere spot on I think.

Horrible word.

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 15-Apr-14 17:43:41

What Nigella said, essentially.

Sunnydaysablazeinhope Tue 15-Apr-14 17:45:51

I'm from Essex.

There are many that think for that fact alone that I epitomise it.

I play with that. But basically it's another way to show superiority. Aka judgy ness on here.

Sparklingbrook Tue 15-Apr-14 17:46:02


Sunnydaysablazeinhope Tue 15-Apr-14 17:47:05

X post with mrs devere! smile

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Tue 15-Apr-14 17:50:10

In the north East, the word Charver has been in use for as long as I can remember - so around 40 years. It comes from Romany 'Chavvi' meaning child, but was always used to describe someone who was a bit rough - often a 'wannabe gypsy'. A significant number of the kids I teach greet each other on FB and by text as 'chavvi' in the same way I would use 'mate'. There is a big travelling community in the area and many of them see the lifestyle as aspirational/glamorous - they did so long before Gypsy Weddings.

Other slang has crossed over - I think 'chor', as in to steal, comes from Romany too, and that is a common word in the area.

MarcusAurelius Tue 15-Apr-14 17:50:17

Chav, as a term, is a bit dated. I've heard them referred to Townies recently. But then I've also heard a group of public school kids referring to each other as "Bredren" on a Suffolk high street.

Language evolves quicker than i do.

ProfessorSkullyMental Tue 15-Apr-14 17:53:22

its synonymous with 'common' here. Where i live used to feature regularly on the once infamous website known as 'chavscum' <eyeroll>

Sparklingbrook Tue 15-Apr-14 17:56:20

So is there any way that regionally people have different understandings?

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 15-Apr-14 18:00:21

I wouldn't think so. "Chav" is just synonymous with their regional word for what chav is now taken to mean.

I know that was probably rhetorical Sparkling, just couldn't help myself grin

ProfessorSkullyMental Tue 15-Apr-14 18:04:03

the 'chav' style here was very distinct.

The 'costume' for the guys was adidas popper trousers, white trainers, t-shirt and tracksuit zip up hoodies, heavy gold sovereign rings, gold chains, bracelets. Burberry cap, diamond stud earrings. If they drove it was a metro or a Nova. shaved heads.

Girls it was either trakkies or skin tight jeans, vest tops, a gold clown necklace, hair dyed black or bleached blonde and scraped back in the old 'face lift' style, with lots of huge gold hoop earrings.

They generally drank diamond white or fosters from the can and held big dogs on leads with spiked collars.

As much as people might dislike the word, chav was a definite 'thing' here for a few years.

CoffeeTea103 Tue 15-Apr-14 18:07:50

Just sounds like a horrible word.

blackcats73 Tue 15-Apr-14 18:23:34

It's a person who doesn't work, is loud, abusive, anti social and criminal. It is not a working class person, rather a member of the criminal underclass.

In the north east they have been Charvas and Kappa slappas. They were the Twocers (Taking Without the Owner's Consent) who in the 80s wore baseball caps and stole from their neighbours. Feral people. Not poor people, criminals!

OhChristHasRisenFenton Tue 15-Apr-14 18:26:06

It does seem to have many different meanings.

My nieces used it to describe someone wearing Burberry when it was fashionable (who was that Eastenders actress who dressed her and her baby and pram head to toe in it?)

That was a few years ago now and the term isn't really used anymore (round ere anyway)

It does seem to have evolved in to many different things carrying various levels of insult.

supergreenuk Tue 15-Apr-14 18:28:41

It's in the dictionary

a young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behaviour and the wearing of (real or imitation) designer clothes.

Preciousbane Tue 15-Apr-14 18:39:00

I have only met two people that have used the word chav..
One classed herself as one, sports gear and a criminal record and wouldfit in with what people are writing on here.

The other is my friend who is the offspring of a hospital consultant and an architect and considers herself quite posh. What she meant when she said it was scum but she was pretending it was ok to be horrible about people by hiding behind this word. Mean.

crazynanna Tue 15-Apr-14 18:43:54

I had to review Owen Jones' book 'CHAVS..The demonization of the working class' for an assessment at Uni. It seems to be linked now to the working class, but does not take into account the consumption and consumerism (or lack of) of the working class.(Apparently wink)

mimishimmi Tue 15-Apr-14 23:22:52

Chavale means 'brothers' in Romani as in 'hej romale, hej chavale'. The Hebrew word is similar - chaverim. It has a positive connotation in both cultures. It's only used negatively by people who probably have a dim view of anyone not like themselves - generally meaning they think the person is low class and blingy. Most of them probably wouldn't even be aware of the Romani origins of the word - there's quite a few though like 'cushy' and 'dad'.

BillyBanter Tue 15-Apr-14 23:37:18

My first encounters with the word seemed to involve people from Essex who wore fake burberry, the children of tradesmen who had more money than middle class people but were rather showy with their new found wealth rather than restrained in their style. they went on holiday to the costas or florida rather than camping in France or skiing on a budget!

But it was only something I read about, not experienced myself. I was a bit miffed though as I'd seen fake burberry shoe boots and quite liked them but didn't feel I could buy them because I would look chavvy.

Anyway Owen thingies book is apparently quite good, if you're actually interested rather than just bored in the easter holidays.

manicinsomniac Tue 15-Apr-14 23:50:15

*Chav, as a term, is a bit dated. I've heard them referred to Townies recently. But then I've also heard a group of public school kids referring to each other as "Bredren" on a Suffolk high street.

Language evolves quicker than i do.*

I don't know that this is true tbh. I think it's more a regional thing.

When I was at secondary school (mid 90s-early 00s) in the North West we used the term 'townie' and I had never heard of a 'chav' until I went to university and heard people from the South using the word where I would have used 'townie'. Some people from (I think) the East Midlands used 'pikey' as a third alternative and Scots talked about NEDs (which I heard mean Non Educated Delinquent but I really hope that's not true!).

However, I think the 'townie' label I grew up with had a softer, less offensive meaning that the current use of 'chav'. 'Townies', where I grew up, wore sports clothing or stretchy hipster trousers and skimpy tops. The girls had heavily gelled ponytails with two little bits released to hang down at the sides and wore big hoop earrings. The boys sometimes tucked their trousers into their socks and wore their caps backwards. They liked pop music. In terms of class they were no different really to the rest of their year group. Most of us were either townies or indies (kind of a mild goth?) and it was almost all to do with fashion and music.

'chav' as it is used now if awful.

PortofinoRevisited Wed 16-Apr-14 00:03:50

Owen Jones "Chavs" book is an investigation on how the media and politicians have gathered together in order to demonise the once proud working class of the UK for political ends. I am not particularly lefty, but I think everyone should read this book, along with Wifework, and Delusions of Gender.

Pumpkinette Wed 16-Apr-14 00:22:03

manic the Scottish equivalent is NED (no one uses the word Chav here - or if they do it must be a very recent thing that I don't know about).

NED does stand for non educated delinquent and was used to describe the type of people mentioned in proffesorSkully 's post. The Ned fashion has moved on a bit but still usually involves tracksuits.

Ned's also have a very distinctive way of talking (very nasal on propose) and use words and phrases that most people non 'neddy' people don't. The female neds are overly aggressive and try to start fights with people who are 'looking at them the wrong way' which basically means any type of eye contact even if its accidental.

jambag Wed 16-Apr-14 00:54:27

From the NW I thought 'chav' overtook the term 'scally' - description sounds about the same. The tracky bottoms into the (sports) socks about nails that to me. Haven't heard the word scally in ages, but perhaps around 90's etc was more prevalent

'bredren' made me just about fall off my chair

manicinsomniac Wed 16-Apr-14 01:00:02

I think 'scally' was a little bit south of where I grew up (Liverpool maybe? Manchester too perhaps?) I did hear it a little bit (to describe the extreme advocates of the style I think) but my bit of Cumbria was all about the 'townies' in the 90s.

Pumpkinette - is it considered ok to use the word NED in Scotland or is it offensive?

Yes, Jeremy Kyle fodder. Adults who hang around on street corners drinking in the middle of the day. People who spit, think it's socially acceptable to smoke weed in public places and swear at their young children. Perfectly capeable of working but refuse to because they'd rather earn £60 a week on the dole and shop lift rather than get a job. People who shop at Brighthouse rather than buying second hand.

Fed up of seeing them. It did used to be a proud thing to ne working class, but middle class is the new working class.

usualsuspectt Wed 16-Apr-14 08:57:07

So you think Chav = WC then?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-Apr-14 09:00:11

I'm with the person's gran who equated it to 'common'. Or as my gran would have put it 'fur coat and no knickers'. smile

ProfessorSkullyMental Wed 16-Apr-14 09:00:23

Townie here means something completely different.. i live in a town in a very rural area, so most of us consider ourselves to be countryfolk.

Townies are the ones who have never set foot on a farm and wouldn't know one end of a cow from the other and drive a 4x4 even though its never seen owt but tarmaced highways and a roads.

That's all you got from my post? Not at all, I just think the goalposts have moved. Let me put it a different way: there's a new, lower 'working class' who are perfectly capeable of working but choose not to.

I had someone walk past my work a few days ago (I work in a shop) and I heard him say "I'd rather stay on the dole than fucking work in there." I have perfectly good job with promotion prospects.

usualsuspectt Wed 16-Apr-14 09:07:19

I'm still just getting chav= WC from your posts.

Then you need to re-read them.

Chocoholism Wed 16-Apr-14 09:16:07

I always thought working class was considered the back bone of Britain, I'm not sure you can say working class is people who refuse to work???

usualsuspectt Wed 16-Apr-14 09:18:14

You don't think MC people on benefits are chavs.
You don't think MC people who smoke weed are chavs.
You don't think MC people who swear at their children and buy things on credit are chavs.

So you must think chav= WC.

NigellasDealer Wed 16-Apr-14 09:20:56

I have no idea why people insist on describing people who have never worked as 'working class'

Chocoholism Wed 16-Apr-14 09:21:13

Also I've downloaded the book people have mentioned, Chavs, Owen Jones. It's about time I read something not baby related again blush

Chocoholism Wed 16-Apr-14 09:24:37

I think people misunderstand what middle class actually is

NigellasDealer Wed 16-Apr-14 09:26:09

go on enlighten us then choco
My old history teacher at school in the 70s said it was anyone who owned their own house. Possibly a bit simplistic?

CuChullain Wed 16-Apr-14 09:28:16

Personally, I thought the word chav was for those antisocial feckless twats who make the lives of anyone who has the misfortune to live near them an utter misery. It has very little to do with class and everything to do with said individual possessing a fuck you zero personal responsibility entitlement attitude which if questioned is met with verbal abuse or actual violence. There are some who will claim that ‘chav’ is the demonisation of the working class, I say that does the working class a disservice as in my experience most working people are tucked up in bed at 2am and not driving around town in their ‘modified’ Honda SR blasting shite drum and bass out at 400db. These are the muppets who all too often ‘know their rights’ despite not actually being able to spell them as school was perceived to be a somewhat optional distraction.

Chocoholism Wed 16-Apr-14 09:49:16

To be honest I don't even know myself anymore what middle class is, I think the lines have blurred. Middle class might have been thought to be well educated people with higher incomes, own home, shop In waitrose and all that jazz but I don't think it's as simple to say it's about money as there are people, I.e myself, I definately come from a working class background but i went to uni, I even shop in waitrose now and again! I can't define it but I don't think that it relates to money.

Horsemad Wed 16-Apr-14 09:49:46

I overheard someone use this word last week and it summed up the culprits exactly, as per supergreenuk's description from the dictionary.

The person who used it was a middle aged woman who had to split two parents who were having a dispute after a youth match.
One of the parents had been having a private conversation & the other (a manager of one of the teams) interjected and was threatening to headbutt the other parent!
The woman intervened & told the manager and his cronies they were acting like a bunch of chavs. They were most put out and outraged at her choice of adjective.

I think she used the correct description, they were acting in a loutish yobbish fashion.

LouiseAderyn Wed 16-Apr-14 10:28:51

I think MC is when you assume your dc will go to university and have a well paid career because that's the experience of the last 3 generations in your family. It is your assumption that they will be able to buy a house, go on holiday at least once every year. Its not worrying about the future because your family experience is that it will all be okay.

WC is not having these automatic assumptions. Even if you become wealthy, poverty is still within memory for you. WC is knowing that your kids might not have sparkling careers ahead and might have to have a boring job. It's knowing that we are all only a step or two away from financial disaster, so we worry about it rather than having the easy confidence of the MC (who are also a step or two from financial disaster but think it couldn't happen to them).

Chavvy I think refers to an underclass, who have a huge sense of entitlement that the world owes them a living and they don't actually have to do anything to earn it. It also imo refers to money but no class.

Horsemad Wed 16-Apr-14 10:35:27

Based on my pp, I think 'chavvy' is not about money/wealth, it's about attitudes. You can be rich but still be 'chavvy'. Likewise, you can be poverty stricken yet still have more class in your little finger than someone with loads of money.

It's more about how people conduct themselves imo.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-Apr-14 10:47:44

Anyone remember the appalling Harry Enfield/Kathy Burke couple that were 'considerably richer than yaow'...? To me they epitomised chavvy. Vulgar. Common. No taste, no manners & no class (in the non socio-economic sense of the word)

Sparklingbrook Wed 16-Apr-14 10:54:07

Pammy and Stanley Cogito?
I was thinking Wayne and Waynetta at first. grin

Horsemad Wed 16-Apr-14 10:54:39

Agree Cogito!

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-Apr-14 13:41:57

Pammy and Stanley. Toe-curlingly chavvy they were. Wasn't there a sketch where Stanley had treated Pammy to some new 'titties' and she wanted to show them off? Brrr....

Wayne and Waynetta were grotesque but not vain enough to be chavvy. Vicky 'yeah but no but' Pollard on the other hand... the pink tracksuit and Croydon Facelift are perfect.

NigellasDealer Wed 16-Apr-14 13:47:22

Pammy and Stanley were pure genius - what a comedy pair Harry Enfield and Kathy Burke were - and just spot on! I have actually met people from the Midlands like this! shouting about their koi carp etc.

struggling100 Wed 16-Apr-14 15:58:11

My first encounters with the word seemed to involve people from Essex who wore fake burberry, the children of tradesmen who had more money than middle class people but were rather showy with their new found wealth rather than restrained in their style. they went on holiday to the costas or florida rather than camping in France or skiing on a budget! - Billybanter

I am SO glad to read this! This was definitely my first encounter with the word, too - but everyone I mention it to looks at me like I am crazy. I was in London at the time, and I distinctly remember it started out as a term for wealthy but uneducated people who wore a lot of (real) designer clothes, and drove blingy cars. So Stephen Ireland and Katie Price were 'chavs', as were the sons and daughters of wealthy builders etc. It was a disparaging term that used standards of taste to ridicule a form of very in-your-face (and slightly ridicule-worthy) conspicuous consumption by a newly wealthy class.

It wasn't until about a year after that I heard it used to describe people from the underclass who were aspiring to be like these more wealthy types, but wearing fake designer clothes etc. It's this use that seems to have 'stuck', as a way of denigrating the poor. I absolutely hate this.

Horsemad Wed 16-Apr-14 17:33:50

The 'nouveau riche' smile

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