Chock a Block – Meaning, Origins & Examples

chock a block meaning and examples, explained below

The idiom “chock-a-block” is used to describe a situation where something is very full or crowded, often to the point of overflowing or being jam-packed. It conveys a sense of congestion or overabundance.

This idiom is frequently used to depict places, containers, or situations that are filled to their maximum capacity, leaving little to no room for anything else.

For instance, if a room is filled with people to the point where no more can enter, it might be described as being “chock-a-block.”

chrisAbout the Author: has a PhD in Education. He has been a teacher in schools and universities and has taught English as a Second Language in Colombia. He is former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.

Chock-a-Block Idiom Origins

The origin of this idiom can be traced back to nautical terminology. The earliest known usage is from the early 19th century, where it described the positioning of pulley blocks when they were pulled so tightly together that they could not be moved any closer.

The historical data from the below graph confirms that it’s a very old idiom. It’s been pretty much continually in use for as long as Google’s book and newspaper scanners can detect:

Here’s a brief overview of its origin:

  • Nautical Terminology: In maritime settings, “chock” refers to a wedge or block used to steady a ship, and “block” refers to the pulleys used in the ship’s rigging. When a ship’s rigging was pulled as tight as possible, the blocks would be tightly compacted or “chock-a-block.”
  • Overflowing Crowds: Over time, the term evolved to describe any situation where things were overflowing or crammed together. It became a metaphor for any scenario where there was an abundance or overcrowding.

Today, when a place or situation is described as “chock-a-block,” it means it is extremely full or overcrowded.

15 Examples in a Sentence

  • “The market was chock-a-block with shoppers looking for a bargain.”
  • “During the festival, the streets were chock-a-block with people.”
  • “The storage room is chock-a-block; we need to clear out some old items.”
  • “The train was chock-a-block during rush hour, and I could barely move.”
  • “The restaurant was chock-a-block due to the special event tonight.”
  • “The parking lot is chock-a-block; we’ll have to find somewhere else to park.”
  • “The schedule is chock-a-block with meetings and appointments.”
  • “The suitcase was chock-a-block with clothes, and I couldn’t fit anything else in.”
  • “The theater was chock-a-block for the premiere of the new movie.”
  • “The fridge is chock-a-block; we need to eat some leftovers before buying more food.”
  • “The city was chock-a-block with tourists during the summer season.”
  • “The agenda for the conference is chock-a-block with interesting sessions.”
  • “The bus was chock-a-block; I had to stand for the entire journey.”
  • “The beach was chock-a-block on the hot summer day.”
  • “The notebook is chock-a-block with notes; I need a new one.”

Practice Questions Worksheet for Students

Question 1: If a concert venue is chock-a-block, what does this mean?

  • a) It is empty.
  • b) It is half-full.
  • c) It is filled to capacity.
  • d) It is under construction.

Question 2: Which of the following situations best describes something being chock-a-block?

  • a) A highway with no cars.
  • b) A library during finals week.
  • c) A closed amusement park.
  • d) An empty classroom.

Question 3: If someone says, “The suitcase is chock-a-block,” what are they likely indicating?

  • a) The suitcase is broken.
  • b) The suitcase is empty.
  • c) The suitcase is very full.
  • d) The suitcase is lost.

Question 4: In a restaurant, if the reservation book is chock-a-block, what does it imply?

  • a) The restaurant has no customers.
  • b) The restaurant has some available tables.
  • c) The restaurant is fully booked.
  • d) The restaurant is closed.

Similar Idioms

1. Packed like sardines

Definition: To be crowded closely together.

In a Sentence: “The commuters were packed like sardines in the subway.”

2. Jam-packed

Definition: Extremely crowded or full.

In a Sentence: “The stadium was jam-packed for the championship game.”

3. Bursting at the seams

Definition: Overfilled or overcrowded.

In a Sentence: “The club was bursting at the seams with fans.”

4. Filled to the brim

Definition: Completely full.

In a Sentence: “The jar was filled to the brim with cookies.”

5. Overloaded

Definition: Loaded or filled beyond capacity.

In a Sentence: “The truck was overloaded with furniture.”

6. Stuffed to the gills

Definition: Extremely full or crowded.

In a Sentence: “The restaurant was stuffed to the gills on opening night.”

7. Overflowing

Definition: Being so full that the contents go over the sides.

In a Sentence: “The river was overflowing after the heavy rain.”

8. Wall-to-wall

Definition: Filling a space completely.

In a Sentence: “The gallery was wall-to-wall with art enthusiasts.”

9. Teeming

Definition: Abundantly filled with especially living things.

In a Sentence: “The forest was teeming with wildlife.”

10. Cramped

Definition: Very small and tightly packed.

In a Sentence: “The apartment was cramped with furniture.”

11. Crammed

Definition: Completely filled with things in a disorderly way.

In a Sentence: “The drawer was crammed with old letters.”

12. Brimming

Definition: Full to the point of overflowing.

In a Sentence: “Her eyes were brimming with tears.”

13. Congested

Definition: Overcrowded; too tightly packed.

In a Sentence: “The city center was congested with traffic.”

14. Swarming

Definition: Moving in a large group.

In a Sentence: “The square was swarming with tourists.”

15. Heaving

Definition: Very crowded.

In a Sentence: “The bar was heaving with people on Friday night.”

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