Definition of chicken in English:


Syllabification: chick·en
Pronunciation: /ˈCHikən


  • 1A domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat, especially a young one.
    More example sentences
    • Most of us think we're familiar with the sounds of the domestic chicken, but not all fowl calls are created equal.
    • As birds go, the domestic chicken is hardly built for high-performance flight.
    • This brief summary demonstrates the level of understanding that has been gained in studying the scutate scales of the chicken.
  • 1.1Meat from a chicken: roast chicken
    More example sentences
    • The meats consisted of soft shelled crab covered in spices, tender roast beef and chicken.
    • The main types of meat are pork, chicken, and mutton.
    • This tells us that she won't eat red meat, chicken, pork, fish or seafood.
  • 2 informal A game in which the first person to lose nerve and withdraw from a dangerous situation is the loser.
    More example sentences
    • Bondholders are playing a dangerous game of chicken because they feel they have little to lose.
    • I think it's sort of a game of chicken until then.
    • It's like we're playing a game of chicken in reverse.
  • 2.1A coward.
    More example sentences
    • You're right - I am a chicken, scared of everything and anything.
    • Candy was right, Jane was being a coward and chicken.
  • 3 informal (Among homosexuals) an adolescent male.


[predic.] informal Back to top  
  • Cowardly: they were too chicken to follow the murderers into the mountains


[no object] (chicken out) • informal Back to top  
  • Withdraw from or fail in something through lack of nerve: the referee chickened out of giving a penalty
    More example sentences
    • But every time I almost get up the nerve to go and speak to her, I chicken out.
    • Maybe you'll intend to come clean but chicken out.
    • She said, ‘We need to raise a better generation that won't chicken out.’


don't count your chickens before they're hatched

see count1.


Old English cīcen, cȳcen, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kieken and German Küchlein, and probably also to cock1.

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