The Chin Dictionary, a guide to Britain’s upper classes – Robb Report
Instagram account The chin dictionary and his playful satire on the quirks of Britain’s upper classes has amassed over 24,000 followers. His puns and witticisms are all definitions – hence the name – from Briexit (leaving before cheese class) and Camembore (should have left before cheese class) to NSIT (the lewd man. , known to be dangerous in taxis) and Bone of Conflit (kissing a distant cousin).
Personal details on the author, known only as Leo, are scarce, but we do know that he works on a property in rural England and describes himself as a Chin. We spoke with the Lion about how and why he started the account, his favorite definitions, and the newly published book that compiles many of these favorites into one handy resource.
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.
How would you define “chin”? You are proud to call yourself one.
It probably comes from “chinless wonders” that appeared somewhere in the early 1900s to describe a somewhat unnecessary member of the aristocracy, male or female. About 10 years ago it was relaunched, because other terms had lost their meaning: toffs, or Sloanes or the adjective chic. These have just become general terms. The chin is like a Masonic handshake: no one else uses the term other than the chins, so they can relate to each other.
Give me some examples of famous chins that Americans might recognize.
Cara Delevigne, Minnie Driver, Eddie Redmayne, Emily Blunt, and Henry Cavill, they’re all chins. The same goes for Helena Bonham-Carter and Dominic West; Sienna Miller too. There is self-confidence in them. Chins aren’t a snob on people, but they’re very snobbish about things – anything flashy is a big red flag. This country has not been invaded for 1,000 years, so they had time to refine their tastes this way.
Tell me how and why you started the Instagram account about 3 years ago.
Any group that has been self-sufficient for so long takes on ridiculously fun habits, any demographic – a tribe in the Amazon. Can I write about it? No, because I am not an initiate. But I wanted to be a writer, and I just knew you start with what you know [when writing]- what amuses you and titillates you. And yes, I identify as a chin myself.
Why Instagram, not Twitter?
Twitter had a word count, and it’s also just a screaming match that goes down to the lowest common denominator. So I started posting once a week on Instagram. And chins love Instagram because they live in amazing homes and have amazing vacations.
You made a book about it at the end of last year which was a huge hit in the upper echelons of British society. Chins have a good sense of their own nonsense.
Irony crosses the chin. The first 2000 copies that I sold, in about three weeks, and looking at the mailing list, the main addresses were: mansion, rectory, castle and rectory. Some people didn’t even bother to put their [zip code] because their house is the largest in the area that everyone knows. Mike Tindall, Zara Phillips’ husband, has a copy, which he received when he was on a podcast. And I know that at least one member of the royal family follows him on Instagram, through his private account. And I heard through the vineyard that they liked him.
Why insist on the anonymity of the account and the book? It is very in the Bridgerton mold, with Lady Whistledown.
It adds a little extra thrill, but it also makes it more accessible. Satire works and is more fun if the person writing it is anonymous – that makes it a more generalized view.
Your definitions are puns, but they are things that really do happen. Like this entry.
Yes, it combines relativity with something no one has pointed out yet – the fact that people are setting up loss-making businesses selling kilim lamp shades or something like that.
And this one.
When you have calls with some of the chin-heaviest businesses in the City of London, you can tell him what he’s wearing and the way he’s talking, but also the background – it’ll be a nicotine yellow. , wardrobe row with nothing else there, the most humble room in the house. It gives the false impression of making a call with a Rubens in the background in your large living room.
Another that struck me as particularly well observed was this:
The Chinas are considered to be rich in assets and poor in income. Every year, Chins will bring in an auction house to do an appraisal for insurance purposes. They constantly seek to liquidate assets, to combat the double evil of inheritance taxes and decrepit buildings. It’s the Downton abbey thing – who will the domain go to and how will the next generation maintain it? Julian Fellowes was perfect with it.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might turn pale at this one:
This is by no means to screw him up. Chins sometimes love their dogs more than their children. I know a lot of people with dogs called Leo.
TV of course. In 2013, I was asked to be sure Made in Chelsea, the reality show, like about 100 other people I knew. It has become a rite of passage to ask to be a member of the cast. But I’m only at the beginning of the book’s transformation into a scripted TV series. I think it would be a combination of Entourage and that of Lena Dunham Girls, a mixture of sailing as close as possible to the wind, with humor and hedonism, with a lot of realism below. There are some very interesting true stories about chins in your 20s and 30s.