- a domestic fowl, Gallus domesticus, descended from various jungle fowl of southeastern Asia and developed in a number of breeds for its flesh, eggs, and feathers.
- the young of this bird, especially when less than a year old.
- the flesh of the chicken, especially of the young bird, used as food.
- 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.
- a contest in which two cars approach each other at high speed down the center of a road, the object being to force one's opponent to veer away first.
- a policy or strategy of challenging an opponent to risk a clash or yield: diplomats playing chicken at the conference table.
- (of food) containing, made from, or having the flavor of chicken: chicken salad; chicken soup.
- petty or trivial: a chicken regulation.
- obsessed with petty details, regulations, etc.: He's quitting this chicken outfit to become his own boss.
- chicken out, Slang.
- 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.
- count one's chickens before they are hatched, to rely on a benefit that is still uncertain: They were already spending in anticipation of their inheritance, counting their chickens before they were hatched.
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
Beef, veal, or chicken broth may be made in the same manner.Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches
- a domestic fowl bred for its flesh or eggs, esp a young one
- the flesh of such a bird used for food
- any of various similar birds, such as a prairie chicken
- slang a cowardly person
- slang a young inexperienced person
- slang an underage boy or girl regarded as a potential target for sexual abuse
- informal any of various, often dangerous, games or challenges in which the object is to make one's opponent lose his nerve
- count one's chickens before they are hatched to be overoptimistic in acting on expectations which are not yet fulfilled
- like a headless chicken British informal disorganized and uncontrolled
- no chicken or no spring chicken slang no longer youngshe's no chicken
- slang easily scared; cowardly; timid
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