Definition of hen in English:


Line breaks: hen
Pronunciation: /hɛn


  • 1A female bird, especially of a domestic fowl.
    More 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.
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    • 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, native hen.
    More 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.
  • 1.3Scottish Used as an affectionate term of address to a girl or woman: and I really like you too, hen
    More example sentences
    • One creaky old man shouted in frustration, ‘I just cannae understand ya, hen!’
    • If anything really exciting has happened to you in the past month, please tell me in the comments because I just cannae go on like this, hen.
    • Well ah'm sorry if ah upset ye but it's too late noo, hen.
  • 2A female lobster, crab, or salmon.
    More 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.


as rare (or scarce) as hen's teeth

Extremely rare.
More 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.


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

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