Online Dictionary

must have killed a chinaman Explained

must have killed a Chinaman at English (WD) Of Explained:



The Chinese have had a presence in Australia since colonial days, and some folk superstition attached to them. Good fortune was predicted on encountering a Chinese person as one engaged in a bet, and it was supposed that killing such an individual would lead to a disastrous run of bad luck.


Inter: head » en|verb|head=must have killed a Chinaman
  • Inter: Australia » offensive Inter: non-gloss definition » Used as a whimsical explanation for a run of bad luck.
    1. 1925, L. M. Newton, The Story of the Twelfth: A Record of the 12th Battalion, page 132
    2. : It appeared as though someone in the Battalion must have killed a Chinaman, as the weather continued rough and stormy, with strong wind.

      Usage notes

      * Because of negative historical connotations, the term Inter: term » Chinaman|lang=en is no longer in appropriate use, and persists only in this expression or similar dated expressions.


      Inter: seecite » s


      * “must have killed a Chinaman”, entry in The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, Category: w - :Eric Partridge|Eric Partridge, page 393.

  • I must have killed a Chinaman”, entry in A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the sixteenth century to the present day, Eric Partridge & Paul Beale, page 218.