pecking order


noun

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.

Nearby words

  1. peck's bad boy,
  2. peck, gregory,
  3. pecker,
  4. peckerwood,
  5. pecking,
  6. peckinpah,
  7. peckish,
  8. pecksniff,
  9. pecksniffian,
  10. pecky

Sometimes peck order.

Origin of pecking order

First recorded in 1925–30

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


British Dictionary definitions for pecking order

pecking order

noun

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
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

Culture definitions for pecking order

pecking order

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with pecking order

pecking order

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.

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