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May 22 2012   5:58PM GMT

Chuck it up, chalk it up or chock it up?

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

The VoIP system proposal wasn’t ready in time and we missed the deadline specified in the RFP.  We decided to just  ___________ to experience and get organized more quickly next time.

a. chuck it up

b. chalk it up

c. chock it up

Answer: b

Explanation:

To chalk something up is to attribute it. When we chalk something up to experience, we’re saying that although it wasn’t the outcome we wanted, we can at least learn from the experience.  The phrase originated with the custom of marking bar tabs and scores on a slate in pubs. So, if we had Wins, Losses and Experience on a chalk board, we would write resources put into VoIP system proposal under the Experience heading and use what we learned this time to improve our chances next time.

The phrase chalk one up for is a direct reference to the score-keeping custom. If we’d managed to get our proposal in on time and had the winning bid, we might have said Chalk one up for us! Metaphorically, we have a chalk board with the name of our company and the names of other companies that are submitting proposals. On that chalk board, we mark one under our company name because we won that contest.

The Online Slang Dictionary defines chalk up this way: “Surrender and accept the cause as something beyond one’s control or give credit to something beyond one’s control (if positive),” which is a fair translation of how the phrase is used.

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