"Chinese" cuts

When I was a kid in the 80’s there was this thing known as Chinese cuts*. For anybody unfamiliar with the term, here’s how it worked. Say you’re in line, I’ll call you A. You’re behind B. C comes along and wants to cut in front of you, but you say no. B and C then work it out where B gives C cuts, then C gives B cuts so that it works out exactly the same as if you would have given cuts to C in the first place.
Or, if that sounded confusing

  1. CAB - C asks to cut in front of A so that the order will be ACB, A says no.
  2. ABC - B let’s C cut in front of him/her
  3. ACB - C let’s B cut in front of him/her

Now, when I was younger, I didn’t realize that putting a nationality or ethnicity in front of a word was usually done as a slur or put-down. So, what stereotype about the Chinese is this kind of cut supposed to reference?

*I’m sure it still exists, but hopefully it now has a more PC name.

Probably the same meaning as “Chinese fire drill”, which was when a car full of people, on stopping at a red light, would all get out of the car and run around it and eventually end up in the same seats they were in before they stopped. For some reason, “Chinese” used to refer to confusion or frantic activity that got you nowhere new.

To quote this bloke called Cecil Adams

In the context of what both of you have posted, I can see why they’re called Chinese cuts. Thank you.

In school during the '70s and early '80s, we called it ‘Frontsies - Backsies’ - The cutter C would go in front of B, and then in back of B, peeving off A in the process, of course.
Perhaps we weren’t cosmopolitan enough back then to call it a Chinese Cut…

I vaguely remember the term ‘Frontsies - Backsies’, but I didn’t hear it used very often.

Heh, it was almost a ritual - the cuttee would say ‘you go frontsy’ (which he/she would), and then the cutter would say ‘I’ll go backsy’ (which they then did). I didn’t get stiffed by this often as I usually was in front of the dillweeds who would pull this stunt, but I saw it happen often enough, always with some sort of ‘frontsy/backsy’ dialog.

I can’t see how that would work because if I am in line I have the right to prevent anyone from cutting in anywhere ahead of me.

In my elementary school youth (mid-to-late eighties), we would call it “ditching” where you let somebody cut in front of you, but “Russian ditching” to let them in behind you. Why Russian and not Chinese?

ETA: I couldn’t find anything on “Russian ditch” specifically via Google… probably just a regional-type thing.

We called it double-ditching. (New Jersey, 1980s)

We called it a “butter-butt” back in 1995 or so. We were so sophisticated.

We always called it Indian (Native American, not from India) skipping. This was in the mid to late 90’s.

Besides the “confused” and “exotic” senses of Chinese in various phrases, there’s also the “cheap” meaning derived from the Chinese immigrants who were paid “coolie wages” to work on the railroads, in laundries, or elsewhere. Baseball slang thus gained the concept of the Chinese home run, a ball which just cleared a fence or wall (often a barrier that was at an artificially short distance from home plate, such as the right-field fence at the New York Giants’ Polo Grounds).

We always called it “backbutting”, as opposed to just “butting”. Also mid/late 90’s.

Well, remember we’re talking grade school, and the fact is that while the guy getting ‘burned’ on this deal (the ‘cutted’?) could take on one of the duo cutting, he (or she) probably could not take on both of them - the ‘So whatta ya gonna do about it’ scenerio.
Frontsies-Backsies rarely happened in front of members of the Football team, or guys who needed to shave by 5th grade, if you get my drift…

Yeah, good luck enforcing that right.

We just called it “backsies”, and there wasn’t the subterfuge of the double-passing; the passer simply got behind the person giving them backsies.

I couldn’t find any laws pertaining to queues and one’s rights within, sorry.

We called it backsies, as well, but we went through the ceremony. Late 80’s.

Anyone who’s spent any time in a train station in China would not find that perjorative - just descriptive.

And on the “Chinese this and that” theme, there’s an unintentional shot in cricket called a “Chinese cut”. An orthodox cut sends the ball somewhere between three o’clock and six o’clock off the face of a horizontal bat; a “Chinese” cut, off the bottom edge of the bat to about seven o’clock, narrowly missing the stumps en route.