browbeaten, bullied, or intimidated by one's wife, girlfriend, etc.: a henpecked husband who never dared to contradict his wife.

Origin of henpecked

First recorded in 1670–80; hen + peck2 + -ed2
Related formshen·peck·ing, noun



verb (used with object)

to browbeat, bully, or intimidate (one's husband, boyfriend, etc.).
Related formshen·pecked, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for henpecked

Contemporary Examples of henpecked

  • One danger is that women will be henpecked by men who now claim that unprotected sex is medically safe.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The New Unsafe Sex

    Tracy Quan

    July 28, 2009

Historical Examples of henpecked

  • It was, she said, just the opposite—she who had been henpecked.

    Adventures and Recollections

    Bill o'th' Hoylus End

  • People said that Squire Hall was henpecked; they also said that he had married beneath him.

    The Way to Peace

    Margaret Deland

  • I had heard of henpecked husbands and now I felt that I saw one.

    Anne Of Avonlea

    Lucy Maud Montgomery

  • I had the gout, my wife was a shrew, and I was—a henpecked husband.

    Sheppard Lee, Vol. I (of 2)

    Robert Montgomery Bird

  • I am prepared to become an awful example of a henpecked husband.

    Mount Royal, Volume 1 of 3

    Mary Elizabeth Braddon

British Dictionary definitions for henpecked



(of a man) continually harassed or tormented by the persistent nagging of a woman (esp his wife)



(tr) (of a woman) to harass or torment (a man, esp her husband) by persistent nagging
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 henpecked

1670s, an image from hen + peck (v.).

The henpect Man rides behind his Wife, and lets her wear the Spurs and govern the Reins. [Samuel Butler]

The verb henpeck (1680s) apparently is a back-formation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper