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hen

Syllabification: hen

Definition of hen in English:

noun

1A female bird, especially of a domestic fowl.
Example sentences
  • He hid near nests of black woodpeckers, kingfishers, northern hazel hens and Eurasian sparrow hawks.
  • Tragically it's beyond them to understand the instinct that will make even a domestic hen attack anyone coming between her and her chicks.
  • The female red junglefowl is leaner than tame hens.
1.1 (hens) Domestic fowls of either sex.
Example sentences
  • The only things living were a sow, her piglets, and some hens scratching in the dirt.
  • Shot over a five-year period, the programme reveals secret glimpses into the ordinary, everyday life of cattle, sheep, hens and wildlife on the Cotswold slopes.
  • Children will also delight in the baby piglets, kittens, ducks, and hens that roam free.
1.2Used in names of birds, especially waterbirds of the rail family, e.g., moorhen.
Example sentences
  • Pan-roasted guinea hen, golden as the duck, is sparked by a sauce of tomato and lovage.
  • Incubating common eider hens were caught on the nest with hand-nets on selected islands in the study area.
1.3A female lobster, crab, or salmon.
Example sentences
  • Down below me in a shallow margin I watched a ragged hen salmon, bursting with eggs, preparing to spawn with a huge cock fish that had a kype like a fist and a tail like a shovel.
  • It went into the ‘fish bank’ - a cage in the river where the best hens are kept for breeding at the end of the season.

Origin

Old English henn, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hen and German Henne.

Phrases

as rare (or scarce) as hen's teeth

1
Extremely rare.
Example sentences
  • She acknowledged the existence of differences between men and women, but argued that the reason ‘women are as scarce as hen's teeth’ in academia is due to discrimination.
  • In Australia (where I'm from) these units are as scarce as hen's teeth.
  • Good, dedicated filing clerks are as rare as hen's teeth.

Definition of hen in:

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