Definition of chicken in English:



  • 1A domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat, especially a young one.

    • ‘For example, chickens and turkeys can escape most of the harms just described.’
    • ‘Just as it sounds, a fertile egg has been fertilized by a male chicken and could potentially become a chick.’
    • ‘This brief summary demonstrates the level of understanding that has been gained in studying the scutate scales of the chicken.’
    • ‘She lived on the top floor while all her hens and chickens clucked happily on the ground level.’
    • ‘The Portuguese introduced the domestic pig, chickens, olives, and salt cod as well as coffee and tea.’
    • ‘However, the animals sacrificed in these rites have been chickens and hens.’
    • ‘Each of the three compartments contained either a chicken, a rooster or an egg.’
    • ‘Most of us think we're familiar with the sounds of the domestic chicken, but not all fowl calls are created equal.’
    • ‘He tried his medicine on young chickens which were given the concoction twice a week.’
    • ‘The male chickens have dark yellow feet whereas the female chickens have light yellow feet.’
    • ‘Domesticated animals such as chickens and pigs were raised in the same area.’
    • ‘When it comes to making a sacrificial gift to the gods, they prefer to slaughter a male chicken.’
    • ‘The disappearance of chickens in many farmyards and back gardens must have reduced the availability of food.’
    • ‘We walked very quietly around the yard to try and find the chickens and roosters who were hiding in one of the stables.’
    • ‘As per traditional Indian thinking, seeing a brood of chickens along with a hen is a bad omen.’
    • ‘As birds go, the domestic chicken is hardly built for high-performance flight.’
    • ‘Everyone has seen at least a few gallinaceous birds, since domesticated chicken and turkeys are in this category.’
    • ‘This mighty bird, the chicken of chickens, is brilliantly colored with feathers of red, green, brown, black, and gold.’
    • ‘I understand, and have seen at first hand on several occasions what a fox can do to a flock of chickens, or other domestic fowl.’
    • ‘Three younger girls chase a chicken around in circles.’
    1. 1.1Meat from a chicken.
      ‘roast chicken’
      • ‘Corn, rice, and peas are eaten with meats such as chicken, fish, pork, and beef.’
      • ‘This includes all previously allowed items plus red meat, chicken, and well-cooked vegetables.’
      • ‘Smoke rose from the center, where open fires roasted chicken and other meats.’
      • ‘Concentrate on eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and choose chicken rather than red meat.’
      • ‘The sauce also goes well with leftover roast, chicken, turkey or ham.’
      • ‘When I am given a choice of meats, I choose white meat such as chicken or fish over steak.’
      • ‘The main course was a pristine roast chicken with herbs and bacon and mashed potatoes along with mixed vegetables.’
      • ‘The sauce is good served with roast chicken, steak or grilled fish.’
      • ‘The decline was more pronounced among women who ate a high percentage of non-dairy animal protein, such as red meat, chicken, turkey and pork.’
      • ‘Roast beef, chicken, seafood, steak, and savory stews were among the typical fare.’
      • ‘My husband and I don't eat red meat or chicken; my parents, who do, call us ‘vegetarians.’’
      • ‘We had a delicious meal of steak, roast chicken, mashed potatoes and salad.’
      • ‘The preferred meat is mutton, but chicken, beef, and camel also are consumed.’
      • ‘They were also asked to decrease intake of red meat, substituting chicken, fish, and skim milk as protein sources.’
      • ‘The main types of meat are pork, chicken, and mutton.’
      • ‘The meats consisted of soft shelled crab covered in spices, tender roast beef and chicken.’
      • ‘Some braised beef or roast chicken, for example, would be a welcome addition.’
      • ‘Believe me, the beef, pork, chicken and other meats are very expensive.’
      • ‘This tells us that she won't eat red meat, chicken, pork, fish or seafood.’
      • ‘These people tended to avoid red meat but ate chicken and fish.’
  • 2informal A game in which the first person to lose nerve and withdraw from a dangerous situation is the loser.

    • ‘Buses and trucks play a game of chicken, oblivious to the concept of traffic lanes.’
    • ‘It's like a game of chicken - car racing toward car, head-on - who would back down?’
    • ‘As I write this, the game of chicken is in maximum overdrive.’
    • ‘Bondholders are playing a dangerous game of chicken because they feel they have little to lose.’
    • ‘I talked to Seth today about it and he just laughed and told me they were playing a game of chicken and truth or dare.’
    • ‘The best of these is at a lumber yard, where groups of fighters need to balance on the logs in a death defying game of chicken.’
    • ‘What we have here is an intriguing game of chicken.’
    • ‘If that is not enough then maybe the driver will engage you with a pleasant game of chicken.’
    • ‘This is not a some kind of macho game of chicken to show we have our resolve.’
    • ‘It was just like the game of chicken - someone would have to back out first.’
    • ‘In the game, it becomes more like a game of chicken, with the enemy ship trying to charge and ram you almost from the first moment you come across one another.’
    • ‘Who will survive the ultimate game of slow motion chicken?’
    • ‘It looked like a game of chicken as both shifted to tackle positions.’
    • ‘Since then, the two men have been engaged in a game of chicken.’
    • ‘It's a game of political chicken within the Republican party.’
    • ‘The scheduled sessions had gone badly, both men playing a game of chicken as they moved from one contentious issue to another.’
    • ‘This is prime land, housing here would fetch huge prices and so, for a quarter of a century, a sort of big business game of chicken has developed.’
    • ‘It's like we're playing a game of chicken in reverse.’
    • ‘I think it's sort of a game of chicken until then.’
    1. 2.1A coward.
      • ‘Candy was right, Jane was being a coward and chicken.’
      • ‘You're right - I am a chicken, scared of everything and anything.’
  • 3informal (among homosexuals) an adolescent male.


  • [predicative] Cowardly.

    ‘they were too chicken to follow the murderers into the mountains’
    easily frightened, lacking courage, fearful, apprehensive, afraid, frightened, scared, faint-hearted
    View synonyms


[NO OBJECT]informal
  • Withdraw from or fail in something through lack of nerve.

    ‘the referee chickened out of giving a penalty’
    • ‘I'd never seen anything quite like that, and half of me is afraid of what he will do, and half of me is afraid he will chicken out at the last second.’
    • ‘The advantage is that you can spend as much time as you like modifying the configuration and activate it in just a couple of keystrokes - or not, if you chicken out.’
    • ‘Maybe you'll intend to come clean but chicken out.’
    • ‘If the corporate talking heads don't chicken out, this could be fun.’
    • ‘They're the ones who may change their minds or chicken out.’
    • ‘Don't tell me you all came this far just to chicken out?’
    • ‘But every time I almost get up the nerve to go and speak to her, I chicken out.’
    • ‘So it will not surprise you if I chicken out of making predictions.’
    • ‘I thought you would chicken out, I didn't really mean for you to do it.’
    • ‘The person who told me this says that there's still time for someone to chicken out and cancel or postpone.’
    • ‘I'm going to chicken out on this one, and keep all my punchlines to myself.’
    • ‘I just had to push you into the crowd first because I knew you would chicken out and not jump.’
    • ‘Make sure you don't chicken out on the rollercoaster though, as it's an experience-and-a-half.’
    • ‘The course doesn't start until May, so there's still time to chicken out, if need be.’
    • ‘Obviously this will be open to horrendous abuse, so I might chicken out at the last moment.’
    • ‘Every time I try to talk to her, I just chicken out.’
    • ‘I don't want to chicken out, but finally I say ‘Man, this is hard work.’’
    • ‘‘We'll keep her just in case you decide to chicken out on us,’ Regis said.’
    • ‘‘You'd better not chicken out at the last minute again,’ she warned him.’
    • ‘She said, ‘We need to raise a better generation that won't chicken out.’’


  • don't count your chickens before they're hatched

    • Don't be too confident in anticipating success or good fortune before it is certain.

      ‘I wouldn't count your chickens—I've agreed to sign the contract but that's all I've agreed to’
      • ‘I am reluctant to count any chickens before they're hatched, so I will make no predictions, but I will let you all know as soon as anything happens.’
      • ‘He was feeling better, but didn't want to count his chickens.’
      • ‘We are feeling positive but not counting any chickens.’
      • ‘I'm not sure we're ready to throw out names just yet, only because we don't want to count our chickens before they hatch.’
      • ‘He is scheduled to be the next chairman of the council and, although he does not want to count his chickens before they are hatched, is rationalising his commitments.’


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