Definition of headless chicken in US English:

headless chicken


  • 1In similative phrases denoting frantic, unthinking, and often futile activity, especially in "running around like a headless chicken" and variants.

  • 2A person, group, etc., engaged in frantic but purposeless activity.


Late 19th century; earliest use found in Christian Union. From headless + chicken, with allusion to the phenomenon whereby a chicken can move about for a short time after decapitation, due to reflex activity of the nervous system.


headless chicken

/ˌhɛdləs ˈtʃɪk(ɪ)n/