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When trading with the Hindus, British sailors noticed scraps of paper known as "citthi" were used for money, to avoid having to carry large amounts of gold and silver. This term was later shortened to "chit" and was used to describe the vouchers used for meals.

In the US Navy today, the term "chit" is most commonly used to refer to a leave request form, however, any form or official piece of paper can be called a "chit".

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