Hey Chum...have some chum!

So I’m picturing two seamen ::stifling pre-pubescent laughter:: workin’ on the boat…cuttin’ up fish parts, makin’ it good with a little touch of blood, mashing it all together and the one guy says…

“Say Bill…this mixture reminds me a lot of our friendship.”
My question is…which came first? Calling someone a chum, meaning, you’re my pal…or cutting off fish heads, feeding them to sharks and calling THAT chum…and are the two possibly related?

I certainly hope not…it seems a little shady.


After checking out http://www.m-w.com

chum as fish bait 1857
chum as friend 1864

That’ll learn me to type to fast…
Chum as friend 1684

So…we could conceive from this that someone CHOPPED UP THEIR FRIEND and used him for fish bait!!! THE FACTS ARE IN.

thanks,funnee…I still wonder if there’s any connection between the two.


Let’s see if I can muddy the waters even further. The Chum Salmon is one of the five species of salmon found in the North Pacific, and is an important food source for native subsistence hunters in the interior of Alaska. Lately, it has been marketed as “Keta” salmon in the rest of the world.

Yes, well m-w has Chum Salmon as an origin of 1902 so it came well after the other two uses.

Chumming around is what you do with a friend. Standing around at 3 a.m. cutting up dead smelly fish for bait is (hopefully) something you do with a friend. I can see how the word would be transferred.

“Whatcha doin’?” to people standing there cutting bait.

“Oh, just chummin’ around…” Then before you know it, “chum” means the stuff you’re chummin’ around with your chums, with.