With wood as one mankind’s ancient building materials, carpenters have passed their skills down through generations and generations over the past 7000 years. The word ‘carpenter’ evolved from the Old French word ‘carpentier’ (later charpentier) which was derived from the Late Latin ‘carpentrius’ (maker of a carriage). How about elsewhere across the globe? Carpintero in Spain; Zimmermann in Germany; Kamuta in Samoa and thợ mộc in Vietnam.
The term ‘Chippy’ is commonly used in Australia and the UK to refer to carpenters. The term is found as far back as the 16th century – no doubt in reference to the wood chips that flew as carpenters worked their magic. A proverb from 1770 states: ‘A carpenter is known by his chips’. According to the Routledge Dictionary of Historical Slang ‘chippy’ was the ‘inevitable nickname of a man surnamed Carpenter’ within military ranks; while ‘chippy chap’ referred to blue jacket carpenters within the navy. Today it’s used fondly in reference to those with an invaluable skillset: the carpenter.