butt in and chime in

Discussion in 'English Only' started by juzely, Dec 2, 2008.

  1. juzely Member

    Hi! Can somebody please explain what is the difference between butt into and chime in here:

    1) There was something else about our conversation that made it tempting for a New Yorker to chime in: the fact that my friend was complaining.

    2) Californians are shocked to have strangers butt into their conversations, but they accept the intrusion; they are shocked again if the stranger bows out as suddenly as he butted in

    Thank you in advance!
  2. Oeco

    Oeco Senior Member

    Milwaukee, WI
    English - US
    They have an almost opposite meaning. Butt in[to] means to interrupt. Chime in means to join.
  3. juzely Member

    Thank you! Don't they both mean "to join conversation"?
  4. out2lnch Senior Member

    Ottawa, Canada
    I'd say so, to an extent. Butt in implies interruption as Oeco says, so it is normally unwanted/uncalled for. The person butting in may not be joining the conversation as such, but may be hijacking it or just otherwise interjecting his views/comments.

    Chime in implies that the person is giving their views or comments, but the connotation is not negative like in butt in. They may be joining the conversation, but not necessarily. They may be offering a one-time opinion on the matter at hand.

    To me the difference is in perception: if someone's views are wanted, they may chime in with them, whereas if they are not (or the timing is inappropriate etc.), then that same person could be said to be butting in. Of course, chiming in could be said sarcastically, which would have the opposite meaning, putting it closer to butting in.
  5. juzely Member

    oh, thank you very much! I think I understand.
  6. arueng Senior Member

    Hi, sorry for chipping in.

    I guess chip in conveys the similar idea here, but is it equal to butt in or chime in? Thanks.
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Chip in is closer to chime in than butt in.
    As has been said, butting in is usually unwelcome - hence the dismissive "Butt out."
    Chime in is usually in support of something - it carries a sense of harmonising with what's been said (at least for me).
    Chip in is usually welcome, but may or may not be in support.
  8. mizbooty

    mizbooty Senior Member

    English - Canada
    I've never heard chip in in reference to a conversation. The context in which it is typically used is monetary, meaning contribute to (I guess it could relate to a conversation...) eg: The gift was $50 so each of the five friends chipped in $10.
  9. arueng Senior Member

    Thanks, pan, for the subtle analysis.

    Without your analysis, I'd consider all of them to be the same.
  10. Susan612 Member

    New Jersey, USA
    American English
    In my experience chip in is more often used in a monetary sense. For example: My coworkers all chipped in to buy a retirement gift for our boss.
  11. arueng Senior Member

    Sorry, mizbooty, for missing reading this post of yours.
    I'm shocked to read that you've never heard chip in in reference to a conversation.
    But it does, right?

    Thanks, Susan.
    YOu bet!
    But it does refer to a conversation!
  12. Hermione Golightly

    Hermione Golightly Senior Member

    British English
    I am very familiar with 'chip in' used both ways, to contribute to a discussion or to a collection of money. I'd say it is neutral compared with' butt in'.

  13. arueng Senior Member

    Thanks, Hermione.
    After reading all of the discussions, I also know how to use chip in in both ways.

    "Let's chip in to buy Mom a birthday gift" chipped in Mary.

Share This Page