chat up

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pwa

Member
english; usa
To chat someone up...
Does this simply mean "to start a conversation with someone"? How is it usually used? And, does it have any negative connotations?

Thanks so much!
 
  • mamboney

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    Like you, I am an American but I think I can help you with this.
    I think it is slang in Britain & Scotland for the American slang terms "picking up" or "hitting on someone".

    Example:"That punter is chatting up Diane." = that loser is hitting on Diane!

    BUT! you should wait for a Scot or a Brit to verify this
     

    buddingtranslator

    Senior Member
    English, England
    Hi pwa,

    The main connotation of "chatting someone up" is generally starting a conversation with someone, yes, but mainly with a member of the opposite sex with a view to getting that persons phone number. In short, it's not just "starting a conversation" it's also expressing a sexual interest in them.
     
    Hi pwa,

    'To chat someone up' means to talk to someone in a flirtatious and suggestive manner in the hope that the person being 'chatted up' might give (usually) sexual favours.

    It happens a great deal in bars and pubs. Scene - a couple of men are in a bar and spot a couple of females who might be worth pursuing for fun and games later. 'Let's go and chat those two birds up' says one, 'I reckon we could be in there.' It can happen the other way round also. Girls often 'chat boys up' with a view to more intimate moments together.
     

    buddingtranslator

    Senior Member
    English, England
    Mamboney's right. It's the same as "hitting on someone". Just for the record though, we never say "punter"! I've never heard that expression used by any English person, maybe they say it in Scotland but none of my friends there use it. A punter is more like someone who makes bets (wagers) on something, for example a horse race.

    To put "chat up" into context, we might say "That guy just tried to chat me up". Or something like that.

    Oh, the wonderful variations between British English and American English!
     

    mamboney

    Senior Member
    English (USA)
    buddingtranslator said:
    Mamboney's right. It's the same as "hitting on someone". Just for the record though, we never say "punter"! I've never heard that expression used by any English person, maybe they say it in Scotland but none of my friends there use it. A punter is more like someone who makes bets (wagers) on something, for example a horse race.

    To put "chat up" into context, we might say "That guy just tried to chat me up". Or something like that.

    Oh, the wonderful variations between British English and American English!
    Oh, the wonderful variations between British/Scottish/American English!!

    The uses of 'punter' are boundless in contemporary Scottish fiction -- Irvine Welsh & Ian Rankin, for example...

    I could, of course, have the wrong idea about what a 'punter' is...I am an American after all!
    <For further discussion of "punter" see HERE >
     

    apblopes

    Senior Member
    Portuguese, Brazil
    Hi.
    By the dictionary definition I couldn't understand exactly how to use the expression chat (somebody) up.
    Could native speakers give me some examples, please?
    Thanks.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    He stood at the bar, waiting to chat up the bar maid (waiting to chat the bar maid up). He tried chatting her up. She could not stand being chatted up by customers. His chat up technique was very poor.
     

    Thomas1

    Senior Member
    polszczyzna warszawska
    I think it is also worth mentioning that the expression is typical for the British variant of English. This thread are worth reading if you want to find out more on chat someone up. :)

    Tom
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    You could chat someone up and someone could chat you up. In both cases, you'd be making romantic or sexual advances.

    You could chat with someone and someone could chat with you. In both cases, you'd be making conversation.
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Where does this expression come from? I have never heard it before.
    Which? Chat up or just chat?

    Chatting someone up is a common idiom in BE and, although I've never heard it from an American mouth, I'd be surprised if it wasn't used in AE too. It simply means the small talk that tries to find out if someone's interested in starting a romantic or sexual involvement.
     

    pops91710

    Senior Member
    English, AE
    Which? Chat up or just chat?

    Chatting someone up is a common idiom in BE and, although I've never heard it from an American mouth, I'd be surprised if it wasn't used in AE too. It simply means the small talk that tries to find out if someone's interested in starting a romantic or sexual involvement.
    Chat up. Chatting we all do!:D
     

    Network57

    Member
    CO
    English - American
    It's possible I've only picked it up from British sources without realizing it, but I use 'chat up' all the time.
     

    brian

    Senior Member
    AmE (New Orleans)
    I'm American, and I've heard & used to chat someone up before. The noun, chat-up line, is new to me, however. I would always say pick-up line.

    Keep in mind, though, that even though chat-up line and pick-up line are basically synonymous, the verbs to chat up and to pick up are not, at least not the way I use to chat up. For example:
    (1) John was really chatting up that red-head last night. <-- perfectly natural
    (2) *John was really picking up that red-head last night. <-- unnatural, meaningless
    (1) means that John was engaging in conversation with the red-head, presumably in order to take her home or at least get her number. We don't know whether or not he succeeded. (2) is meaningless because to pick up, contrary to to chat up, implies success:
    (3) John picked up the red-head last night. <-- perfectly natural
    (3) means that John succeeded in taking her home, or at least getting her number.

    In fact, one could restate (1) as follows:
    (4) John was really trying to pick up that red-head last night.
    (4) is very similar to (1), though not completely synonymous: (1), I think, implies that the chatting was mutual (the red-head was conversing as well, at least somewhat, regardless of whether or not she was interested in John); (4), on the other hand, could be used even if the girl was completely ignoring John (not talking at all).

    A question for British English speakers: can you say both to chat up someone and to chat someone up? For example:
    (5) John chatted up the red-head.
    (6) John chatted the red-head up.
    Both sound fine to me.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    At the risk of transoceanic warfare, when I first read "chat up" it sounded distinctly illiterate to me. (Still does.)

    Plus I've never heard this in the USA.
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Oh, I don't think you're going to find too many people putting "chat up" forward as a model of eloquence, Packard. Any of the phrases from either side of the pond that deal with "going out and getting a girl" are rather agricultural at best.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Oh, I don't think you're going to find too many people putting "chat up" forward as a model of eloquence, Packard. Any of the phrases from either side of the pond that deal with "going out and getting a girl" are rather agricultural at best.
    Do you reserve this term for trying to impress somebody of the opposite sex? I often hear "schmoozing" over here, but you can "schmooze" anybody you're trying to impress, including bosses and in-laws.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This expression is not new to any BE speaker or to anyone who's been around these forums for long enough :)
    Today's posts have been glued onto the end of previoius discussions about "chat up".
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    This expression is not new to any BE speaker or to anyone who's been around these forums for long enough :)
    Today's posts have been glued onto the end of previoius discussions about "chat up".
    Thank you, Panj. The first part answered my question nicely.
     

    Majorbloodnock

    Senior Member
    British English
    Do you reserve this term for trying to impress somebody of the opposite sex? I often hear "schmoozing" over here, but you can "schmooze" anybody you're trying to impress, including bosses and in-laws.
    No, not at all. The only prerequisite is that the chatter-up would like to end up with a romantic or sexual association with the "victim".
     

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Do you reserve this term for trying to impress somebody of the opposite sex? I often hear "schmoozing" over here, but you can "schmooze" anybody you're trying to impress, including bosses and in-laws.
    I have the same question as Owlman: I think I've heard 'chat up' used (in the US) in a non-sexual context. The meaning was 'to talk to someone in a flattering manner, with an ulterior motive'.

    Would this usage make sense to a BE listener? Or is it an unwarranted extension of the phrase?

    My curiosity burns.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    If by 'ulterior motive' you mean 'getting into his/her pants', Estefanos, yes. I can't imagine chatting someone up in the hope of doing business with him/her at a later date ~ that would be buttering someone up:)
     

    JustKate

    Senior Member
    I've never heard it used this way in AmE, either (for me it is invariably BE, with the definition provided by BE speakers in this thread) - but hey, I don't hear everything. I might use "buttering someone up," as suggested by Ewie, but schmoozing is even better.
     
    Last edited:

    estefanos

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Thanks, Kate. I think I've only heard this usage one or two times; it was probably a misunderstanding of the BE meaning.
     
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