Chink in the armor is an idiomatic phrase, referring to a vulnerability in someone, be it in their character, their body or argument.
The word chink in this context carries a meaning of a small crack or opening on an armor.
The expression is synonymous to Achilles’ Heel which is also used to touch on the subject of a tiny weakness.
In modern times, “chink in the armor” is seeing a decline, as “chink” can be interpreted as double entendre, due to it being a racial slur in America.
The word “chink” emerged in English in the aforementioned sense during the 15th century, when armors were still widely applied in warfare.
“Chink in the armor” emerged as an idiomatic phrase in the 1600’s, warning people of the lethality of the tiniest of openings.
Over the years, the phrase would see several uses, before its original meaning would be corrupted by a racist second meaning.
The slur, “chink” would emerge in the United States in the 1880’s, referring to the multitude of Asian immigrants, people were wary of.
This would result in a lot of contemporary controversy, whenever the expression “chink in the armor” would be carelessly used in relation to people with Asian descent, causing many their career.
One notable controversy occurred in 2012, involving ESPN and Jeremy Lin, when an article was published about the basketball player, with the headline “Chink in the armor”.
The editor, Anthony Federico was fired for this mistake.
- Gothamist.com – 7 Ways To Say “Chink In The Armor” Without Being Racist
- Slate.com – No More Chinks in the Armor