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Line breaks: chick¦en
Pronunciation: /ˈtʃɪkɪn

Definition of chicken in English:


1A domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat, especially a young one: rationing was still in force and most people kept chickens
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.
1.1 [mass noun] Meat 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 [mass noun] informal A game in which the first person to lose their nerve and withdraw from a dangerous situation is the loser: he was killed by a car after he lay in the road playing chicken
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.
2.1 [count noun] A coward.
Example sentences
  • You're right - I am a chicken, scared of everything and anything.
  • Candy was right, Jane was being a coward and chicken.


[predicative] informal Back to top  
Cowardly: I was too chicken to go to court


[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.’


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



Denoting a situation in which each of two things appears to be necessary to the other: it’s a chicken-and-egg situation where men don’t come forward because there’s no research to report and until they come forward research isn’t forthcoming
More example sentences
  • It then becomes a chicken-and-egg situation - without experience, they cannot find work and without work, they cannot gain experience.
  • This, of course, is a chicken-and-egg situation.
  • We have here the classic chicken-and-egg situation.

don't count your chickens before they're hatched

see count1.

like a headless chicken

informal In a panic-stricken and unthinking manner: players were running about like headless chickens, going in different directions
More example sentences
  • I'm over the moon she is back even though I am running around like a headless chicken after her.
  • Sometimes I find myself sitting around the house doing very little, others I seem to be rushing around like a headless chicken.
  • Do you ever get days when you're running round like a headless chicken?

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