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Probably from the title of The Ballad of Chevy Chase, first published in The Complaynt of Scotland (1549); the ballad is about a hunt taking place on a chase (large country estate where game may be hunted) in the Cheviot Hills between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, and is thought to allude to the Battle of Otterburn in 1388.[1]



chivvy (third-person singular simple present chivvies, present participle chivvying, simple past and past participle chivvied)

  1. (transitive, Britain) To coerce or hurry along, as by persistent request. [from late 18th c.]
    • 2005 November 10, Nick Robinson, “Robinson’s View: Blair’s Defeat”, in BBC News[1], archived from the original on 14 June 2017:
      For 11 years now he [Tony Blair] has only one approach – to lead from the front and then to confront, challenge, and chivvy the Labour Party into backing him.
    • 2007 April 24, “The Albert Sessions”, in BBC[2], archived from the original on 29 May 2006:
      We don't have time to respond to emails or any attempts to chivvy us up – sorry.
  2. (transitive, Britain) To subject to harassment or verbal abuse.
    • 2004, Alan Hollinghurst, chapter 5, in The Line of Beauty, London: Picador, published 2005, →ISBN, part 1 (The Love-chord (1983)), page 128:
      Toby played the lightly chivvied ‘husband’ very sweetly, and Sophie claimed him in the childish ways of someone experimenting with her power, with little exasperations and innuendos.
  3. (transitive, Britain) To sneak up on or rapidly approach.
  4. (transitive, Britain) To pursue as in a hunt. [from mid 19th c.]
    to chivvy the fox

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chivvy (plural chivvies)

  1. (Britain) Something that encourages one to act; a goad, a spur.
    • 2003 September 23, “Web Payback for Delayed Commuters”, in BBC News[4], archived from the original on 9 March 2016:
      Although Mr [Paul] Hatcher is not sure how popular the site will be he has designed it to handle up to 10,000 requests an hour. "It's just there to act as a chivvy to London Underground," he said.