Posted by: Jack Henry | December 19, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Chopped Liver

Good morning, folks!

Today’s question is from one of our credit union clients. He asked if I could review the phrase “I feel like chopped liver” or “What am I? Chopped liver?” A coworker said it, and he thought that it meant they were going to go eat chopped liver.

Well, Michael, of course we can review it! According to Know Your Phrase, “What am I? Chopped liver?” is a “rhetorical question used by a person who feels they are being given less attention or consideration than someone else.”

Here are the author’s theories on where the phrase might be from:

The first theory says that liver is not always viewed on the same level as other foods. For example, if a person is cooking a chicken, they’ll oftentimes throw away the giblets, you know, like the liver or gizzard. Or instead of throwing the giblets away, the person will cook them, not for themselves, but for their pets to eat. Hence, since liver is not usually as desirable to eat as other foods, the expression might spring from such an idea.

Another explanation, as Wikipedia explains, is that “chopped liver was traditionally served as a side dish rather than a main course.” So, the idea would be that sometimes, a person might feel like their thoughts or feelings are not being considered as fully as they should, so they feel like they are being treated as if they were a side dish.

I’m not sure what your coworker was getting at, but this is the most common use and meaning of the phrase.

I am definitely NOT chopped liver! Ew.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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