Green’s Dictionary of Slang

Chow n.

[abbr. pidgin chow-chow, food; ult. ? the chow dog, eaten in China; note MacGill, Reed Dict. of N.Z. Slang (2003): ‘Evolved from sailors calling food “chow”; chowchow for yellow pickles, from Chinese perceived as yellow in skin pigment. A term of contempt that followed Chinese into market gardening, where a cabbage was known as a chow.’]

1. [late 19C+] (Aus.) a derog. term for a Chinese person, esp. an immigrant or descendant of one.

2. the Chinese language.

3. [1910s] one who displays the negative characteristics of a stereotyped Chinese person.

In compounds

Chowburg (n.)

[1900s] (Aus.) Johannesburg.

Chow-land (n.)

[1900s] (Aus.) China.

In phrases

awkward as a Chow on a bike

[1920s+] extremely clumsy, uncoordinated.