chopped liver

See also: chopped-liver



A serving of chopped liver (sense 1)

Calque of Yiddish געהאקטע לעבער(gehakte leber), from געהאקטע(gehakte, chopped) + לעבער(leber, liver). According to the Hungarian-American lexicographer and linguist Sol Steinmetz (1930–2010), sense 2 (“person or object not worthy of being noticed”) may be from the fact that chopped liver is served as an appetizer or side dish rather than as a main dish.[1]



chopped liver (uncountable) (originally US)

  1. A Jewish pâté-like food made by mincing beef or chicken liver and onions which have been broiled or fried in schmaltz (chicken fat) together with hard-boiled eggs; it is usually spread on to bread.
    • 1967, The National Jewish Monthly, Washington, D.C.: B’nai B’rith, OCLC 32472313, page 50:
      The French say they are chopped liver experts. But you will decide whether Mrs. Weinberg, her mother, her mother's mother and her mother's mother's mother knew the secret of real chopped liver—long before the French did.
    • 1974, Molly Finn; Jeri Laber, Cooking for Carefree Weekends, New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, →ISBN, page 81:
      The traditional meal is a fine example of how to get the most from a chicken: the chicken, which is also the main course, produces the liver and the soup as well as the chicken fat which is essential to the flavor of the matzoh balls, the chopped liver and the grated radish.
    • 1995, Judith Davis, “The Bar Mitzvah Balabusta: Mother’s Role in the Family’s Rite of Passage”, in Maurie Sacks, editor, Active Voices: Women in Jewish Culture, Urbana; Chicago, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, →ISBN, part IV (Ritual Voices), page 125:
      Despite the widespread performance and increasing popularity of the contemporary American bar mitzvah, exceedingly little serious secular study has been devoted to this uniquely tenacious ritual. Perhaps this lack of scholarly attention reflects the negative stereotypes of glitz and chopped liver center pieces, or the sense that this is, after all, a religious event "best left" to rabbis and Jewish educators.
    • 2000 June 19, Will Self, How the Dead Live, London: Bloomsbury Publishing, →ISBN, page 68:
      I'm leaning against a General Electric fridge of such purring, juddering, aerodynamic aspect that were I to unsuck the rubber-flanged door and climb inside, settle myself comfortably in amongst the bowls of chopped liver, the packets of frankfurters, the crinkly heads of lettuce, it might well lift off for the Forbidden Planet.
    • 2015 January, Delia Rosen, chapter 2, in Fry Me a Liver, mass market edition, New York, N.Y.: Kensington Books, Kensington Publishing, →ISBN, pages 21–22:
      We had a run on chopped liver that morning, which was one of our biggest sellers. It was delicious, yes—more on that later—but people responded to the Yiddish saying that Uncle Murray had put in English next to the chopped liver platter listing on the menu, as he did with most of the entrées: Gehakteh leber iz besser vi gehakteh truris: Chopped liver is better than miserable troubles.
  2. (idiomatic, humorous, informal) A person or object not worthy of being noticed; someone or something insignificant.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:nonentity
    Antonyms: see Thesaurus:big cheese
    What am I, chopped liver?
    Say, this new information is not chopped liver.
    • 1949, Joey Adams, The Curtain Never Falls, New York, N.Y.: F. Fell, OCLC 1407702, page 175:
      You've been nice enough, but what am I, chopped liver or something?
    • 1962 October 23 (first performance), Sidney Kingsley, Night Life: In Three Acts, New York, N.Y.: Dramatists Play Service, published 1966, OCLC 2803321, Act 1, page 16:
      Two hundred and eighty million dollars in the Union's welfare fund. That ain't chopped liver.
    • 1996, Emma Brookes, chapter 9, in Dead Even, New York, N.Y.: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, →ISBN, page 95:
      Well, now, I wouldn't make this change seem like a major overhaul. After all, you weren't exactly chopped liver before! But I did sense that you were deliberately trying to downplay your attractiveness, for whatever reason. Not that you succeeded, of course.
    • 1999, Maurice Yacowar, “Moses”, in The Bold Testament: A Novel, Calgary, Alta.: Bayeux Arts, →ISBN, page 43:
      God is the father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What about Sarah and Rebecca? What about Leah and Ruth? What are they, chopped liver? All your god respects are the men. Women are nothing to Him.
    • 2003 January 3, Salam Pax [pseudonym; Salam Abdulmunem], “January 2003”, in Salam Pax: The Clandestine Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi, 1st American edition, New York, N.Y.: Grove Press, →ISBN, page 68:
      Zaid is especially happy with his friend's visit (you know, the one he keeps telling us is his only real friend ever – I guess we were chopped liver).
    • 2009, Dana Brand, “Waxing: How the Mets are More Popular than the Yankees”, in The Last Days of Shea: Delight and Despair in the Life of a Mets Fan, Lanham, Md.: Taylor Trade Publishing, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 26:
      But it really rankled Mets fans when anyone assumed that the Yankees were New York's main baseball team and the Mets were the little brother, the chopped liver, the city's second team.
    • 2011, Barbara J. Yoder, “The Voice of the Bride”, in The Cry God Hears—and is Waiting to Answer, Bloomington, Minn.: Chosen Books, Baker Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 123:
      Someone had hit the pause button, and I ended up on the waiting list. My beautiful plans had just turned into chopped liver.

Derived termsEdit



  1. ^ William Safire (25 October 1998), “On Language: Enough already! What am I, chopped liver?”, in The New York Times Magazine[1], New York, N.Y.: The New York Times Company, ISSN 0028-7822, OCLC 762261046, archived from the original on 31 January 2018, section 6, page 28; see also “What am I? Chopped liver?” in Michael Quinion, World Wide Words[2], 5 November 2016.

Further readingEdit