- Food or a meal.
Probably earlier than the 19th century. Possibly a corruption of the South China pidgin word chow-chow, meaning food.
This likely stems from the days of clipper ships making runs to and from China in the 19th century. Nowadays, it’s a general naval and military term for food of any sort (or at least what passes for food in the service). Any resemblance to actual food is purely coincidental. Whether or not it’s edible is another matter entirely.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport.