[ hen ]
/ hɛn /


the female of the domestic fowl.
the female of any bird, especially of a gallinaceous bird.
Informal. an unpleasant, usually older woman, especially one considered to be a busybody or gossip.

Nearby words

  1. hempseed,
  2. hempstead,
  3. hempy,
  4. hems,
  5. hemstitch,
  6. hen fruit,
  7. hen harrier,
  8. hen hawk,
  9. hen night,
  10. hen of the woods

Origin of hen

before 1000; Middle English; Old English hen(n) (compare Old English hana cock); cognate with German Henne; akin to Latin canere to sing

Related formshen·like, adjectivehen·nish, adjective

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hen

British Dictionary definitions for hen


/ (hɛn) /


the female of any bird, esp the adult female of the domestic fowl
the female of certain other animals, such as the lobster
informal a woman regarded as gossipy or foolish
Scot dialect a term of address (often affectionate), used to women and girls
scarce as hen's teeth extremely rare

Word Origin for hen

Old English henn; related to Old High German henna, Old Frisian henne

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hen


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with hen


see mad as a hornet (wet hen); scarce as hen's teeth.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.