late 13c., cheterlingis "entrails, souse, small intestines of a swine fried for food" (early 13c. in surnames), a word of obscure origin, probably from an unrecorded Old English word having something to do with entrails (related to Old English cwið "womb;" compare German Kutteln "guts, bowels, tripe, chitterlings," Old Norse kviðr "womb," Gothic qiþus "womb"). Variants chitlins (1842) and chitlings (1880) both also had a sense of "shreds, tatters."
"While I was in this way rollin' in clover, by picturin' what was to be, they wur tarin' my character all to chitlins up at home." [John S. Robb, "Streaks of Squatter Life," Philadelphia, 1843]
updated on November 13, 2017