I was talking to my mom last week before she and my dad, who live in my hometown of Philadelphia, came out to Kentucky to visit my wife and me. She made a joke about the inferiority of something in Kentucky, then said she was being a chauvinist. I've only ever heard chauvnist used in the context of male chauvinism, where men think they are better than women. But this is another case of a word with a broader meaning that has fallen out of use enough that I'd never heard it in my 26 years.
The definition from the American Heritage Dictionary:
- 1. Militant devotion to and glorification of one's country; fanatical patriotism.
- 2. Prejudiced belief in the superiority of one's own gender, group, or kind.
And here's the OED etymology:
From the French chauvinisme ... from the surname of a veteran soldier of the First Republic and Empire, Nicolas Chauvin of Rochefort, whose demonstrative patriotism and loyalty were celebrated, and at length ridiculed, by his comrades. After the fall of Napoleon, applied in ridicule to old soldiers of the Empire, who professed a sort of idolatrous admiration for his person and acts. Especially popularized as the name of one of the characters in Cogniard's famous vaudeville, La Cocarde Tricolore, 1831 (‘je suis français, je suis Chauvin’); and now applied to anyone smitten with an absurd patriotism, and enthusiasm for national glory and military ascendancy.