- a cowardly or fearful person.
- a young or inexperienced person, especially a young girl.
- petty details or tasks.
- unnecessary discipline or regulations.
- a young male homosexual, especially one sought as a sexual partner by older men.
- petty or trivial: a chicken regulation.
- obsessed with petty details, regulations, etc.: He's quitting this chicken outfit to become his own boss.
- to refrain from doing something because of fear or cowardice: I chickened out when I saw how deep the water was.
- to renege or withdraw: You can't chicken out of this business deal now.
Origin of chicken
Related Words for chickenpoultry, hen, poltroon, dastard, quitter, coward, craven, recreant, funk, biddy, chick, cock, cockerel, pullet, capon, rooster, cockalorum, gump, heeler
Examples from the Web for chicken
Contemporary Examples of chicken
Wearing the right foot of a chicken was considered good luck.
While the chicken today might be the least exotic bird one can think of, it was once a gift that wowed kings.
Lawler is more interested in the more fascinating story of how the chicken spread.
The chicken, to this day, is valued for its medicinal properties.
In Rome, he writes, the chicken “predicted the outcome of battles.”
Historical Examples of chicken
Ben Haley meanwhile was rapidly stripping the chicken of its feathers.Brave and Bold
The odor given off by the chicken is also an indication of freshness.Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
Even Tillie's chicken and waffles failed against this handicap.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
She brought a plate full of rice, and a big piece of chicken.Rico and Wiseli
Instead of butter, the onions may be boiled in veal or chicken broth.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
Word Origin for chicken
Old English cicen "young fowl," which in Middle English came to mean "young chicken," then any chicken, from West Germanic *kiukinam (cf. Middle Dutch kiekijen, Dutch kieken, Old Norse kjuklingr, Swedish kyckling, German Küken "chicken"), from root *keuk- (echoic of the bird's sound and possibly also the root of cock (n.1)) + diminutive suffixes.
Adjective sense of "cowardly" is at least as old as 14c. (cf. hen-herte "a chicken-hearted person," mid-15c.). As the name of a game of danger to test courage, it is first recorded 1953. Chicken feed "paltry sum of money" is by 1897, American English slang; literal use (it is made from the from lowest quality of grain) by 1834. Chicken lobster "young lobster," is from c.1960s, American English, apparently from chicken in its sense of "young."
In addition to the idioms beginning with chicken
- chicken feed
- chicken out
- chickens come home to roost
- chicken shit
- chicken with its head cut off
- count one's chickens
- go to bed with (the chickens)
- like a chicken with its head cut off
- no spring chicken