Origin of hen
Examples from the Web for hens
What he loved to do was count the number of eggs his hens laid.Orwell’s Lies: His Diaries Reveal Problems with the Truth|Jimmy So|August 19, 2012|DAILY BEAST
As Foer writes in Eating Animals, “I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.”
The UNFPA is moving toward smaller incentives, like hens, for cost reasons.
By October 20 many of the nests were complete, and the hens sat in them, though no eggs were to be seen yet.Antarctic Penguins|George Murray Levick
He then sits to hatch them, while the hens feed round at liberty.The Western World|W.H.G. Kingston
If you are forced to give your hens or chickens meal, you must sift it fine and scald it and cool it.
The hens went silently about, and roosters crowed in psalm-tunes.Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4|Charles Dudley Warner
And Boxer barked, and the hens cackled, and the guinea-fowls cried "Come back, come back!"The Adventures of A Brownie|Miss Mulock
British Dictionary definitions for hens
Word Origin for hen
Word Origin and History for hens
Old English henn, from West Germanic *khannjo (cf. Old Frisian henn, Middle Dutch henne, Old High German henna), fem. of *han(e)ni "male fowl, cock" (cf. Old English hana "cock"), literally "bird who sings (for sunrise)," from PIE root *kan- "to sing" (see chant).
The original masculine word survives in German (Hahn "cock"), Swedish, Danish, etc.; extension to "female of any bird species" is early 14c. in English. Hen as slang for "woman" dates from 1620s; hence hen party "gathering of women," first recorded 1887. To be mad as a wet hen is from 1823, but the figure was used to indicate other states:
Some, on the contrary, are viciously opposite to these, who act so tamely and so coldly, that when they ought to be angry, to thunder and lighten, as one may say, they are no fuller of Heat, than a wet Hen, as the Saying is; .... ["Life of Mr. Thomas Betterton," London, 1710]
Orth. Out upon you for a dastardly Fellow; you han't the Courage of a wet Hen. ["A Sermon Preached at St. Mary-le-Bow, March 27, 1704"]
As wanton as a wet hen is in "Scots Proverbs" (1813). Among Middle English proverbial expressions was nice as a nonne hen "over-refined, fastidiously wanton" (c.1500); to singen so hen in snowe "sing miserably," literally "sing like a hen in snow" (c.1200). Hen's teeth as a figure of scarceness is attested by 1838.
Idioms and Phrases with hens
see mad as a hornet (wet hen); scarce as hen's teeth.