Chinese fire drill


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Chinese fire drill

n. Offensive
1. A situation or activity marked by confusion or disorder.
2. A prank in which the people riding in a car get out and change seats when stopped at a traffic light.

[Probably from earlier military slang Chinese, clumsy, inept (a derogatory epithet based on racist notions of Chinese inferiority), later reinforced by such derogatory expressions as Chinese ace, inept pilot (from a joke in which the phrase one wing low was interpreted as a Chinese name ).]
References in periodicals archive ?
engaged in some sort of corporate Chinese fire drill.
Wheel a seriously injured patient into most conventional operating rooms, and you usually get a Chinese fire drill: nurses dashing around looking for the right type blood and special equipment, interns trying to locate surgeons over the phone or rousting them from bed, bottlenecks in getting X-rays, CAT-scans, and lab work done.
We're entertaining ourselves with shell games, musical chairs, Chinese fire drills, Ponzi schemes, and Polish blanket tricks (where, to make your blanket longer, you cut twelve inches off the top and sew it onto the bottom).
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