- Animal Behavior. a dominance hierarchy, seen especially in domestic poultry, that is maintained by one bird pecking another of lower status.
- a sequence or hierarchy of authority in an organization or social group.
Origin of pecking order
Related Words for pecking orderhierarchy, dominance, order, position, scale, grouping, placing, ranking
- Also called: peck order a natural hierarchy in a group of gregarious birds, such as domestic fowl
- any hierarchical order, as among people in a particular group
A hierarchy within a social group or community, in which those members at the top assume positions of leadership, authority, and power. The expression originated from a description of social behavior among chickens, which attack each other by pecking to establish dominance.
The hierarchy of authority in a group, as in On a space mission, the astronauts have a definite pecking order. This expression, invented in the 1920s by biologists who discovered that domestic poultry maintain such a hierarchy with one bird pecking another of lower status, was transferred to human behavior in the 1950s.