1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chopsticks
CHOPSTICKS, the “pidgin-English” name for the pair of small tapering sticks used by the Chinese and Japanese in eating. “Chop” is pidgin-English for “quick,” the Chinese word for the articles being kwai-tsze, meaning “the quick ones.” “Chopsticks” are commonly made of wood, bone or ivory, somewhat longer and slightly thinner than a lead-pencil. Held between the thumb and fingers of the right hand, they are used as tongs to take up portions of the food, which is brought to table cut up into small and convenient pieces, or as means for sweeping the rice and small particles of food into the mouth from the bowl. Many rules of etiquette govern the proper conduct of the chopsticks; laying them across the bowl is a sign that the guest wishes to leave the table; they are not used during a time of mourning, when food is eaten with the fingers; and various methods of handling them form a secret code of signalling.